The results are in and CKX — the company that owns the rights to American Idol — is leaving: It said this morning that it has agreed to sell itself to privately held asset manager Apollo Global Management for $5.50 a share, which suggests that CKX is worth $512 million. Apollo Senior Partner Aaron Stone said that CKX, which also owns the licensing rights for Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali, offers “a strong foundation on which to build an exciting future.” Apollo is run by prominent financier Leon Black, who also sits on the board of Sirius XM Satellite Radio. But the deal brings to an end one-time radio and concert mogul Robert F.X. Sillerman’s dream of creating an entertainment power built on the licensing rights of the baby boom’s cultural icons. At one point he even hoped to land rights to The Beatles. CKX caught everyone’s attention in 2005 when Sillerman bought Idol creator Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment. CKX also owns the firm that manages Woody Allen, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. Sillerman had to be taken seriously: A pal of Mel Brooks and co-investor in his Broadway production of The Producers, Sillerman became a billionaire in the 1990s after collecting and selling the network of concert venues that now forms the core of Live Nation. But Sillerman’s plans for CKX fell apart after he invested in Las Vegas property with the idea of creating an Elvis Presley-themed casino, just before the real estate market collapsed. He left the company last year but remains a major shareholder. CKX shares, which traded for as much as $29 in 2005, closed yesterday at $4.45. Sillerman and Lisa Marie Presley, also a major CKX shareholder, have agreed to the sale.
Investors hoping to find out more about the deal, as well as CKX’s financial status, are out of luck for now: The company has canceled a call it had scheduled with analysts for this morning to discuss its 1Q results, released last night.
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