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VOL. 126 | NO. 92 | Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Elvis Presley Enterprises Parent Acquired

By Bill Dries

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CKx Inc., the parent company of Elvis Presley Enterprises since 2005, will now be in the hands of a New York private equity firm.

CKx announced Tuesday it is being acquired by Apollo Global Management LLC with financing of the $509 million deal by Goldman Sachs Bank USA.

The sale includes not only EPE but the production company for the television show American Idol and ownership of the image of Muhammad Ali, which are also under the CKx umbrella.

Apollo was co-founded in 1990 by Leon Black, who is chairman of the board and CEO, and Joshua Harris and Marc Rowan, senior managing directors.

Black, Harris and Rowan founded Apollo after leaving Drexel Burham Lambert Inc. where Black was managing director and head of the mergers and acquisitions group that included Harris and Rowan.

The company manages investment capital for institutional investors with a goal of restructuring corporations, making leveraged buyouts and then taking a minority position in the companies.

Apollo has investments in Caesars Entertainment Corp., the casino gaming giant.

Graceland becomes Apollo’s property seven years into a stalled expansion of the mansion’s footprint even as CKx expanded the spread of the Elvis image worldwide.

Since CKx CEO Robert Sillerman announced the company’s acquisition of the majority share of Graceland and the image and intellectual property of Elvis Presley in 2005 from The Promenade Trust – the estate of the late entertainer – there have been plans to create new Elvis-themed attractions.

The centerpiece was a $250 million proposed expansion and reconfiguration of the area around the entertainer’s Whitehaven mansion.

Sillerman, in particular, talked about a restoration of the mansion to its 1970s appearance and moving the plaza on the other side of Elvis Presley Boulevard to the same side of the street as the mansion. The plaza property land would then be used for an expansion of Elvis-related shops, hotels and resort type attractions.

Elvis Presley Enterprises even bought several apartment complexes west of the plaza property and north of the mansion as part of the expansion and demolished the apartment units.

As that was going on, the Elvis image took up permanent residence in Las Vegas with a VivaELVIS Cirque du Soleil show that opened in 2008.

But the Memphis-based plans ran into the national economic recession and have stalled since then with CKx executives saying they still intended to pursue them but over a longer time frame or by separating pieces of the plan.

Sillerman, who had been the point person for the new Graceland image and presence, resigned as chairman and CEO of CKx n May 2010 but has remained the largest shareholder in the company. He has also served as a consultant to the company since his departure from its ranks. When he left as CEO, Sillerman said his intent was to try to buy CKx.

As the largest shareholder, Sillerman’s approval was required for the acquisition by Apollo. So was the approval of The Promenade Trust. Both have approved of the merger.

The CKx board has recommended approval of the deal, which now goes to CKx stockholders who would get $5.50 in cash for each share they hold. It is a 40 percent premium over CKx’s average closing price for the last six months and a 25 percent premium over the closing price of the stock on Monday.

CKx canceled a first quarter earnings call with investors scheduled for Monday morning.

CKx reported it earned $7.2 million in the first three months of the year with a 20 percent drop in revenue.

The quarterly report also shows a 7.5 percent decrease in visitors to Graceland from the first quarter of 2010. The report attributed the drop to 80,524 visitors in the three months to “inclement regional and national winter weather and a later Easter Holiday.” The first quarter of 2010 also included numbers from a one time concert series in Europe that boosted attendance.

The first quarter report also shows CKx earned $1.4 million in revenue for the three months on the VivaELVIS Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas and another $1.8 million in royalty based revenue from the intellectual property related to the permanent live theater show.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 85 305 21,577
MORTGAGES 62 223 16,417
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 17 1,504
BUILDING PERMITS 0 571 42,491
BANKRUPTCIES 34 138 6,717
BUSINESS LICENSES 40 72 3,169
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0