Attention, Elvis fans! It’s time for an update on the status of Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE). Since my last update three years ago, there have been significant changes in the company’s ownership. For those concerned about the future of the Presley brand, this is essential information. EPE is now under the control of a corporate behemoth that sees the Presley image as nothing more than a money-making tool. As we enter 2013, the fate of EPE hangs in the balance, with the potential to either thrive or face complete closure. Unfortunately, Presley fans have no say in the matter.
Now that I have your attention, let’s dive into what has transpired at EPE over the past three years. In January 2010, EPE was owned by CKX, Inc., a parent company created by Robert Sillerman. Sillerman acquired 85% ownership of EPE from Lisa Marie Presley in 2004 for a whopping $100 million. However, this deal only included control over Elvis’s image, while Lisa Marie retained full ownership of Graceland and its extensive archives. Fast forward to today, and EPE has undergone a series of high-stakes corporate shuffles.
At the time, CKX, Inc. was a publicly traded corporation on the New York Stock Exchange. Despite the risks, I purchased 200 shares of CKX in January 2010. The stock had dropped significantly, and CKX was rated poorly in profitability. However, there were some positive signs. CKX also owned the British company behind “American Idol” and had recently obtained the rights to Muhammad Ali’s name and likeness. Additionally, EPE was partnering with Cirque du Soleil for an Elvis-themed show in Las Vegas. With all these factors considered, I saw it as a reasonably safe investment.
Sillerman had ambitious plans for Graceland, proposing a $250 million expansion and a complete overhaul of the surrounding area. However, these plans were put on hold due to the U.S. economic recession. Sillerman’s corporate reputation as a wheeler-dealer buyer-and-seller raised suspicions that he aimed to fatten up CKX for a profitable sale within the next few years.
In May 2010, Sillerman resigned as chairman and CEO of CKX but remained the company’s largest shareholder. Less than two years later, CKX and EPE were sold to the New York private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC. The sale, valued at $509 million, required approval from Sillerman and Lisa Marie Presley. Apollo became the new owner of CKX, with Lisa Marie retaining her 15% ownership of EPE.
So, who is Apollo Global Management? Founded in 1990, Apollo is a private equity company specializing in buying and selling established companies for profit. With over $65 billion worth of worldwide investments, Apollo owns a range of notable companies. CKX and EPE are just a fraction of their vast portfolio.
Moving forward, Apollo will likely take steps to streamline EPE, making it more efficient and profitable. This could involve layoffs, management restructuring, and the discontinuation of unprofitable ventures. On the flip side, new potentially lucrative ventures may be encouraged, such as Digital Domain Media Group’s interest in creating a digital hologram of Elvis for live stage performances. Changes are inevitable as Apollo seeks to maximize the value of its investment.
While the future for EPE remains uncertain, there is one constant: Jack Soden, the long-standing president of EPE. Throughout the ownership transitions, Soden has remained at the helm, ensuring the brand’s integrity and financial stability. As long as he continues to run the day-to-day operations, Elvis’s legacy should remain in good hands, regardless of the conglomerate that owns EPE.
So, to answer Cynthia’s question from the beginning, no, you can’t directly buy stock in Elvis Presley Enterprises. However, you could indirectly own a tiny fraction of EPE by investing in Apollo Global Management (NYSE: APO). Keep in mind that this investment would represent a minuscule stake in EPE, given Apollo’s extensive holdings.
This update provides a glimpse into the complex world of corporate ownership and the potential impact on Elvis Presley Enterprises. While the future remains uncertain, Elvis fans can find solace in knowing that EPE’s management continues to prioritize the preservation of the Presley brand. Stay tuned for more updates on the ever-evolving world of Elvis!