The creator of "American Idol" wants a piece of America's most enduring pop idol, Elvis Presley. An investor group led by "Idol" creator Simon Fuller has made a proposal to buy the company that owns "American Idol" and Elvis Presley Enterprises. Search our databases. The proposal, confirmed Friday by parent company CKx Inc., raises the possibility of a bidding war for Graceland's corporate ownership.
CKx founder Robert F.X. Sillerman stepped down as CEO and chairman this month to pursue other interests, including a possible purchase of the company. Memphis officials say the latest twist isn't cause to take their eyes off the prize of a redeveloped Elvis Presley Boulevard. "It's just an important artery and an important piece of property the city needs to improve," said City Council chairman Harold Collins.
"If CKx (Inc.) and Graceland decide to do their part, that's gravy. We're going to redevelop the street anyway." Memphis officials can only be concerned about the part of a proposed Graceland area redevelopment that they can control: improvements to the street and public infrastructure, Collins said.
Sillerman in 2007 unveiled a plan calling for a $250 million development that might include new hotels, visitors center, attractions and shops. CKx officials weren't commenting Friday on the impact a sale might have on redevelopment of company holdings connected to the iconic Presley home at 3734 Elvis Presley Blvd.
Nor would they comment on whether Sillerman played a part in Fuller's offer. "Not commenting and I honestly don't know," said Edmund Tagliaferri, spokesman for CKx. The Wall Street Journal said Fuller and Roger Jenkins, formerly with Barclays Capital, were planning a $600 million bid for CKx. Fuller sold 19 Entertainment, which owns "Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance," to CKx in 2005. Fuller resigned as CEO in January. Tagliaferri said company officials would say no more than what was in a prepared statement Friday.
"CKx Inc. confirmed that it received a proposal today from a group of investors led by Simon Fuller to acquire CKx. ... CKx cautioned, however, that there can be no assurance that it will enter into any agreement with respect to any transaction, or as to the timing or terms thereof, including price." Collins said the city budget for 2010-2011 contains $1.8 million for design of street-related improvements from Interstate 240 to Shelby Drive. The state has committed $46 million to construct the improvements over two years, he said.
"This is what we have to remind ourselves: The development down Elvis Presley Boulevard has nothing to do with Graceland. Our development is going to take place regardless of whether Sillerman, CKx or whoever comes in. "On any given day, Elvis Presley Boulevard can look like Germantown Parkway. It needs to be redeveloped for commerce, the aerotropolis, Smith & Nephew, Medtronic and FedEx," Collins said.