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'American Idol' creator Simon Fuller weighing bid for CKX

May 27, 2010 |  6:01 pm

FULLER

"American Idol" creator Simon Fuller is looking to make a run at CKX Inc., the media and entertainment company whose holdings include 19 Entertainment, one of the producers of the Fox hit.

Fuller is teaming up with financier and former Barclays banker Roger Jenkins and is prepping a bid of about $600 million for CKX, a person familiar with the matter said.

Fuller and Jenkins are the latest to consider throwing their hat in the ring for CKX Inc. Robert F.X. Sillerman, who founded CKX, resigned earlier this month as chairman and chief executive and said he is weighing an offer for the company. Also kicking the tires is One Equity Partners, which is the private-equity arm of JPMorgan Chase. Allen Shapiro, president and chief executive of Mosaic Media Group, is involved in that effort.

That Fuller would emerge as a potential suitor for CKX is not a surprise. He had sold 19 Entertainment to CKX five years ago for $200 million and earlier this year was considering making a move on Sillerman to take over control of the company. Instead, he exited 19 Entertainment and started his own company, XIX Entertainment Ltd., ending a long power battle with Sillerman. Fuller also signed a consulting agreement with CKX.

Like Sillerman, Fuller has a detailed understanding of the company from his years there where he was also a board member. Sillerman is CKX's largest shareholder with a 20% stake. Sillerman was replaced as chairman of CKX by entertainment industry veteran Ed Bleier and Michael Ferrel, a former president of CKX, is now serving as acting CEO.

Besides 19 Entertainment, which produces "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance" for Fox, CKX also has a management business and a majority stake in Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion and an 80% interest in licensing rights to the name and image of Muhammad Ali.

Interestingly, both Priscilla Presley and Shapiro were at the telecast of Wednesday night's season finale of "American Idol."

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Simon Fuller. Credit: Bryan Chan/Los Angeles Times.

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