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Fuller & Co. make bid for CKX

Company is part owner of 'American Idol'

“American Idol” creator Simon Fuller is going after the holding company that bought his 19 Entertainment banner in 2005.

CKX said Friday that it has received an acquisition offer from a group of investors led by British media mogul Fuller. The company, which has been on the block for months, said it is evaluating the proposal and other strategic alternatives.

CKX did not say how much it was being offered but The Wall Street Journal said former Barclays Capital banker Roger Jenkins is one of the investors joining Fuller in a $600 million bid for CKX. In addition to a stake in the global “Idol” franchise, the company also owns the rights to the names, images and likenesses of Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali.

Fuller and Jenkins have created a $1 billion fund for acquisitions, the Journal said. Investor Allen Shapiro, head of Mosaic Media Group, is also known to have been circling the company.

Earlier this month, Robert F.X. Sillerman, CKX’s founder, chairman and chief executive, resigned and said he was considering buying the company. Sillerman, who continues as a consultant to CKX, is the company’s largest shareholder with a 21% stake. He served as chairman and CEO since the company’s inception five years ago.

In 2008, privately held 19X Inc. — controlled by Sillerman and Fuller — abandoned plans to take CKX private because of tight credit conditions that made borrowing more difficult.

Fuller’s bid comes on the heels of a nine-year run for “American Idol,” which said goodbye to its famously caustic judge Simon Cowell last week. While “Idol” remains primetime TV’s top-rated show, it suffered significant audience erosion this season.

In the first quarter, CKX posted a net loss as revenue fell 18% to $66.6 million amid restructuring costs. Shares of CKX, which is based in New York, jumped $1, or 23%, to $5.32 in late trading on Friday on news of Fuller’s bid.

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