Anschutz Buys Beckham
Today, Mr. Anschutz is one of the wealthiest — and most secretive — tycoons in the country, parlaying early oil coups into real estate paydays, savvy runs at the railroad business, and the creation of Qwest Communications International, a telephony company that became mired in an accounting scandal. Last week, Qwest’s former chief executive, Joseph P. Nacchio, was found guilty of federal stock fraud charges. (Mr. Nacchio plans to appeal the ruling).
While the Qwest debacle bruised Mr. Anschutz’s reputation, his deal-making has not slowed down. In his latest act, he is now the biggest backer of professional soccer in the United States, having recruited the British star David Beckham with a five-year, $27.5 million package to play for the Los Angeles Galaxy, the highest-profile of Mr. Anschutz’s three soccer teams.
He has also started free newspapers to challenge local media incumbents like The Washington Post, and he controls America’s largest theater chain — giving him added heft as he pushes into film production with family-oriented and spiritually themed movies like “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” a box-office hit.
Mr. Anschutz’s senior managers say he is confident that he can convert one of the world’s last big non-soccer-crazy nations to the sport, while also influencing the type of films that Hollywood produces. Amid the push and shove of the global media whirl, he wants to be an arbiter of taste, fashion and even moral values.