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Robert F.X. Sillerman says he is prepping bid for CKX, owner of `American Idol'

Robert F.X. Sillerman, the founder of CKX Inc., inched closer to making bid on the company, whose biggest asset is "American Idol."

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Sillerman said he was preparing a cash offer for CKX that would be between $5.50 and $5.75 per share. Sillerman resigned from his position as chairman and chief executive in May and said he was considering a bid on the company. Besides 19 Entertainment, a producer of Fox's "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance," CKX's assets include licensing and merchandising rights to the images of Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali. It also operates Graceland, Presley's former home in Memphis, Tenn.

If Sillerman actually follows through on a bid he will join an already crowded list of potential suitors. Simon Fuller, the creator of "American Idol" and founder of 19 Entertainment has also indicated he would like to buy the company, as has One Equity Partners, the private equity arm of JP Morgan Chase & Co., which aligned itself with Hollywood deal-maker Allen Shapiro.

However, for all the talk about wanting to own CKX, so far no real offers have emerged, leaving some analysts wondering if any of the suitors can put the money where their mouth is. CKX declined to respond to Sillerman's latest rumblings about making a bid. Sillerman did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Wall Street has treated all the interest in CKX with a shrug. The stock closed Tuesday at $5.36 and is down more than 12% since the end of March when the company first acknowledged it had been in talks with potential buyers.

Meanwhile, the future of "American Idol" continues to be a hot topic in the TV industry. The show still has not named replacements for Simon Cowell, the lead judge who left in May, and Ellen DeGeneres, who quit the show just a few weeks ago after one season. Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler, the lead singer of Aerosmith, are the names most bandied about to join the show as judges, but no deals have been wrapped up yet.

-- Joe Flint

 
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