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'American Idol' parent CKX to be sold to Apollo Global Management

May 10, 2011 |  6:15 am


CKX Inc., the parent of "American Idol" producer 19 Entertainment, has struck a deal to sell itself to a private equity firm.

The company, which has been on the block for years, Tuesday morning announced a deal with Apollo Global Management valued at about $509 million.

Under the terms of the all-cash deal, CKX shareholders will get $5.50 per share. The CKX board said it would recommend that its shareholders accept the offer.

Apollo said it had the support of CKX's two key shareholders -- company founder Robert F.X. Sillerman, who is now a consultant to the company, and The Promenade Trust, the company's partner in Elvis Presley Enterprises, whose sole beneficiary is his daughter, Lisa Marie Presley.

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

Last year, when suitors were circling the company, offers were between $550 million and $600 million.

However, although there were three separate groups kicking the tires of CKX, including "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller and Sillerman, no agreements could be reached. The third bidder was One Equity Partners, a private-equity arm of JP Morgan Chase that had teamed up with Hollywood veteran deal-maker Allen Shapiro, who is president of Mosaic Media Group.

The slow pace and tone of the talks led CKX to say in October 2010 that it "did not receive any proposals that it felt were in the best interests of shareholders."

More recently, the Gores Group, which is billionaire Alec Gores' company, made an offer to buy CKX that the board ignored.


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Photo: "American Idol" judges Steven Tyler, left, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson pose with host Ryan Seacrest. Credit: Reuters