Grand Ole Opry for Sale? Gaylord Entertainment Weighs Options as ‘Poison Pill’ Expires
The Grand Ole Opry, a Nashville institution since its founding in 1925, and a stage show which will feature Rascal Flatts, Kellie Pickler, Carrie Underwood and many more in the coming weeks, could soon be up for sale, along with other entities owned by the Gaylord Entertainment Company. According to financial news site Bloomberg, shareholders led by Mario Gabelli's Gamco Investors Inc., have voted to let a "poison pill," a safeguard against unwanted takeovers, expire. The $1.69 billion company, based in Music City, is reportedly reviewing options to bolster its shares, which fell 33 percent last year. Gaylord also owns nearby attractions and four combination hotel and convention centers across the country.
"Over the last 12 months, our stock price has traded substantially below its true value," Gaylord CEO Colin Reed said during a conference call last week, two days before the shareholder vote. He added that the company's review of options has been "very, very extensive. Once we lay our plans out, I think it will make it much easier for investors to value our company. Over the last six months, we've been looking at all options available to the company to unlock value."
Although he noted that the the process was "nearing completion," Reed did not provide a timeline or further details. Gaylord, which bought the Grand Ole Opry in 1983, posted losses for two years starting in 2009, with hotel bookings and room rates falling as a result of the nationwide recession. The May 2010 flood caused extensive damage to the company's Nashville properties, including the Grand Ole Opry House, where live Opry broadcasts have taken place since the move from the downtown Ryman Auditorium in 1974.
A spokesman for Gaylord declined to comment on potential steps the company would take or whether they had been approached by potential buyers at this point.
The Grand Ole Opry remains the longest-running live radio show in American history. This weekend's performers include Diamond Rio, Ricky Skaggs, Billy Gilman, Thomas Rhett and Gretchen Peters. For the complete lineup and information on upcoming Opry shows, visit their official website here.