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EPE And Graceland For Sale?

March 29, 2010 | Other

CKx Inc., the company that controls Elvis Presley Enterprises and Graceland, says it is in discussions regarding a sale of the company. In a statement released early this morning, CKx said it would not elaborate on the terms of the “possible transaction.”

CKx owns and develops entertainment content, and its properties include the rights to the image and likeness of Elvis Presley, Graceland operations, and the rights to the name, image and likeness of Muhammad Ali , and the American Idol series in the U.S.

The company's statement followed a report Friday by the Wall Street Journal, which said the company was close to selling itself to the private equity firm, One Equity Partners, which offered $6 a share. CNBC also reported this morning that the company is being acquired by one of its equity partners.

Graceland is still a moneymaker and tourist magnet, but the iconic home's attendance and revenues were virtually flat last year. The Elvis Presley home and related facilities turned an operating profit of nearly $4.9 million, up about 21 percent from 2008, corporate owners said in an annual report filed Tuesday.

But from all indications, 2009 was pretty much a holding pattern as owners worked through a much-ballyhooed redevelopment plan. Attendance was up 1.2 percent from recession-battered levels in 2008, while revenues were down 1.6 percent.

Referring to a $250 million plan that could include new hotels, visitors center, attractions and shops, the corporation, CKx Inc., "remains committed to the Graceland redevelopment and will continue to pursue opportunities on its own or with third parties," the report said.

CEO Robert F.X. Sillerman, who paid $100 million for an 85 percent stake in the Presley estate in 2004, unveiled ambitious plans in 2007. Other CKx holdings include TV shows "American Idol" and "So You Think You Can Dance," and attractions associated with Muhammad Ali.

Graceland redevelopment planning took a hit last March when the company ended an agreement with a spinoff corporation, FX Real Estate & Entertainment, that was to have developed hotels here and in Las Vegas.

Preliminary design work was scrapped "due to current economic conditions and a lack of certainty as to exact scope, cost, financing plan and timing of this project," the report added.

Company spokesman Ed Tagliaferri said Tuesday, "As Mr. Sillerman has previously indicated, we were working on coming up with a new and exciting design. We continue to move full steam ahead on that." Memphis government and tourism officials said they believe the project is on track.

"I'm confident it is going to happen," Mayor A C Wharton said. "Mr. Sillerman has assured us of his commitment. We are in the final stages of the planning process. It's a real game-changer. It will be one of the most significant developments we've seen in a long time."

City Council chairman Harold Collins said, "As far as being on schedule, I'm not sure they ever said they had a schedule. They have brought in their design people to look at the area. They have not fully decided when they are going to release that or get the design people's finished product."

Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau president Kevin Kane said, "What I'm hearing is they're still very committed to the Memphis project. A delay, if there was one, was because of the economy and other things they were working on in Vegas."

Other attractions claim higher attendance, but Kane said nothing equals the Presley home for out-of-region visitors. "It's the one sure-fire amenity that Memphis obviously is recognized and famous for all over the world," he said. The redevelopment "will enhance not only the visitor's experience to Graceland, but it will probably be a vehicle that will increase the number of visitors to Graceland," he added.

Graceland visitors

2009: 542,728

2008: 536,196

2007: 612,541*

2006: 554,193

2005: 551,292

*30th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death on Aug. 16, 1977


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Mofoca22 wrote on March 29, 2010
what in the world does this mean? graceland is no longer going to be elvis's?
JimmyCool wrote on March 29, 2010
I hope Mr. Sillyman is doing the right thing... for Elvis, of course!
MarkJ wrote on March 29, 2010
This is getting blown way out of proportion. It's not all what it seems. Sillerman has been trying to take CKX private and now this deal will allow that. This will not effect Elvis, Idol or Ali. Sillerman will still be CEO and retain 20.6% ownership of the company. Nothing to see here folks, move along.
Ruthie wrote on March 30, 2010
None of this is "new" news. Articles like this keeping cropping up now & then to get the public's attention & to scare the fans. I am no financial guru but those figures don't look bad to me, especially in the throes of recession - and many areas still are very much still suffering from this economy. And one always has to remember that Sillerman (his company) owns the graceland operations (tours, shops, entertainment, etc.) but he does not own Graceland itself. Lisa does & she still has 85% ownership in graceland operations so he isn't entirely the sole decision maker here.
MarkJ wrote on March 30, 2010
Good points Ruthie. Although Lisa Marie only owns 15%. Silelrman owns the other 85% of the estate.
Lefty wrote on March 30, 2010
I visited Graceland before CKx took over, and I visited Graceland again just last November. Other than the Elvis Presley's Memphis restaurant on Beale Street being closed, I didn't notice a single change. Maybe that's why the numbers have stayed flat? Nothing has changed. I wonder how Simon from "American Idol" would judge Sillerman's performance?
Harvey Alexander wrote on March 30, 2010
I couldn't give a monkeys what these clowns get up to or who owns the rights to sell rubber ducks at Elvis's former home. I own his recordings and that's all that matters. In that respect, I'm richer than they'll ever be.
Charo wrote on March 30, 2010
This isn't Sillerman taking the company private: this is him selling it on to a Private Equity Group. This is how he has operated in all his previous business dealings. In five years, there haven't been any improvements, just higher prices and VIP nonsense. And the awful impersonators foisted onto us at every turn. Considering last year's attendance was slightly higher, the revenues work out at per person spending less than 10 dollars each at Graceland. That is poor, and would have been a bail-out signal to anyone who doesn't care enough for Elvis and his legacy. I so wish that Lisa Marie had kept the company and just invested every penny it made, back into the company. It would be a thriving concern, if that had happened. Don't know if Lisa has a first choice buy-back option. But I sure hope so.
bray1977 wrote on March 30, 2010
Lisa owns the Graceland Mansion itself so Sillerman would be unable to sell that off. Luckily. I have always had the impression that this guy is more interested in the money than the legacy of Elvis. He's a businessman I suppose.
sunrecords56 wrote on March 30, 2010
Being able to draw a half a million people every year is a real tribute, but how much longer can that go on, after you have done the tour, there's the Sun Studio down town, and a night on Beal Street, (same day) so with out re-devlopement and something else to bring in tourists i dont see this mark being hit much longer. and as far as making money dont let anyone Sillerman wasnt "out to make a Buck" Even a Ride on the mississippi was a total bore compared to riding the mississippi in New Orleans, something has to be done to bring in more tourism.,
Ruthie wrote on March 30, 2010
Just to clarify what I poorly stated. During the last Elvis cruise, Soden & the gang held a forum & among various topics gave an education in the structure of EPE since Sillyman. In strictly legal terms, the estate only consists of Graceland mansion. In strictly legal terms, EPE is a separate entity. Although the EPE "operations" conduct the tours, & money is exchanged between the estate & the corporation (consisting of many other legally defined entities), it keeps the mansion separate & solely owned by Lisa. It was my typo that stated she owned 85% rather than 15% of the corporation. However, in going over my notes I realized my confusion came from the fact that she owned 85% of the stock, or at least did at that time, until her last stock sale. No matter how you look at it, Sillyman is a businessman first & foremost. Whether he really likes Elvis or has an interest in him is a moot point. Like the big CEO's like to say (when they raid your stocks & dry up your banks) "It's only business - nothing personal"!
Charo wrote on April 01, 2010
Robert Sillerman has the operational control of Graceland. No, he can't sell the house and grounds; but he can lease the rights to use it, to another company. He still has 94 years to run on his contract. It is not Cherry Lane who have bought out BMG. It is BMG who have bought out Cherry Lane. So BMG now have the publishing rights to the songs, as well as the rights to Elvis' recordings of them. That is a good business move, and it makes sense to do it.
MarkJ wrote on April 01, 2010
For those who wanna know more about the company in talks of the buyout, go to Googl;e and search for One Equity Partners. They're the company in buyout talks with CKX. Go there and then you'll see what they're all about and what they do. If this deal goes through, Elvis, Graceland and Idol won't be affected by this. Sillerman will remain in control and CEO of the company.