Music mogul Irving Azoff may join one of the groups kicking the tires of CKX Inc., the parent company of "American Idol" producer 19 Entertainment.
Azoff, the chairman of Live Nation Entertainment, is considering backing the potential bid of $550 million being put together by Allen Shapiro, president and chief executive of Mosaic Media Group, and One Equity Partners, a private-equity arm of JP Morgan Chase, confirmed people close to the situation. The news of Azoff's emergence as a potential player in the CKX sweepstakes was first reported by the New York Post.
If Azoff does throw some money Shapiro's way, it won't be the $200 million that the New York Post suggested. A person familiar with Azoff's thinking indicated that any investment would be much smaller than that and added that right now the talks are very preliminary.
Clearly though, Shapiro and One Equity Partners are anticipating a heated battle for CKX and looking for reinforcements. Last week, a group led by "American Idol" and 19 Entertainment founder Simon Fuller and former Barclays banker Roger Jenkins submitted an offer for CKX. Although CKX declined to state the amount, people close to Fuller said it was for $600 million.
Another potential player is CKX founder Robert F.X. Sillerman, who resigned as chairman and chief executive of the company last month and said he might make an offer as well. Sillerman already owns 20% of CKX, so even if he doesn't make his own offer, he could end up having a big role in how all this plays out.
Besides "American Idol," CKX also produces Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance," owns a management business and a majority stake in Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion as well as an 80% interest in licensing rights to the name and image of Muhammad Ali.
-- Joe Flint