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Grand Ole Opry May Be Sold

May 16, 2012

Gaylord Entertainment may be ready to sell an American icon.

Country-music history could be up for sale as the owner of the Grand Ole Opry, the showcase that’s hosted everyone from Johnny Cash to Dolly Partonand Carrie Underwood, is pushed to weigh its options.

Gaylord Entertainment Co. (GET), the Nashville, Tennessee-based company that also owns nearby attractions and four combination hotel and convention centers across the U.S., moved closer to becoming an acquisition target last week when shareholders led by Mario Gabelli’s Gamco Investors Inc. voted to let a poison pill guarding against unwanted takeovers expire. The $1.69 billion company is already reviewing options to boost itsshares, which fell 33 percent last year.

Even with analysts projecting record earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the next three years, Gaylord is valued at a 28 percent discount to hotel owners, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company’s profit growth and unique assets may attract interest from itsbiggest shareholder TRT Holdings Inc., owner of the Omni Hotels chain, Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. or a private-equity firm, Penn Capital Management said. Gaylord could fetch at least $45 a share, a 37 percent premium to its average price during the past 20 days, BGB Securities Inc. said.

“Gaylord has tremendous opportunities to grow,” Sam Yake, an analyst at BGB Securities in Arlington, Virginia, said in a telephone interview. “Shareholders think that the stock’s worth a heck of a lot more than it’s currently trading at and I think that’s what they want to get at. Management knows that they need to do something.”

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