May 21 - Elvis And Ali For Sale?

Elvis Presley’ Graceland mansion and rights to the images of Elvis and Muhammad Ali are on the market with a possible price tag of more than $200m, people familiar with the process said. 

Three people familiar with the process said Core Media Group, the entertainment group behind TV-programmes such as American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, has begun approaching potential bidders from Asia, Europe and the US for Elvis Presley Enterprises and Muhammad Ali Enterprises.

Core, known as CKx before Apollo Global Management bought it for $509m in 2011, has appointed The Raine Group, a New York merchant bank, to review strategic alternatives, two of these people said. 

It is testing the market but could keep both if it is unhappy with the offers it receives, they said, but Core hopes to focus on producing content for television and digital outlets. Core and Raine declined to comment.

More than 35 years after Presley’s death and 32 years after Ali’s retirement, the two assets generate revenues of about $60m a year and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of about $23m, according to a briefing document sent to potential bidders.

Despite the 38 per cent ebitda margin, a record of stable, predictable cash flows and a history of revenue raising Elvis re-releases, people familiar with the Presley estate see significant potential for expansion if a buyer is willing to invest.

Possible investments include an Elvis-themed hotel near Graceland in Memphis, a stage show in an Asian casino hub such as Macau, and digital and social media expansion. People familiar with the estate add that per capita spending by Graceland’s 550,000 annual visitors is relatively low and could be improved. The Presley family, represented by the singer’s daughter, Lisa Marie, retained 15 per cent of the company when it sold the remainder to Robert Sillerman’s CKx for about $100m in 2004. The Ali family owns 20 per cent of Muhammad Ali Enterprises.

The unusual combination of brand management rights for two of the 20th century’s most recognisable brands with a tourist destination that has become a place of pilgrimage for many music fans is likely to attract a diverse set of buyers. 

These could include music and live entertainment companies and executives, developers, wealthy fans and local Memphis businesspeople. Elvis Presley Enterprises includes: More than 110,000 pieces of memorabilia, including 3,000 pieces of clothing and 30 vehicles; royalties from 24 films; and copyrights and royalties for 1,150 songs. 

Muhammed Ali Enterprises controls: 11,000 images, 50 hours of footage from the boxer’s life and career, and 5,000 pieces of memorabilia. 

Sony Music’s Legacy Recordings division holds the rights to all Presley’s master recordings, and has overseen several reissues, including plans to release a deluxe edition of “Elvis at Stax” in August.

Core considered a bid for Endemol before the European television production company’s owners put sale talks on hold. A successful sale could raise proceeds for a renewed attempt to buy Endemol or other production businesses.

(Source: EvisMatters)