Liberty Wants Control Of Sirius XM
Liberty Media Corp. intends to buy a controlling interest in satellite radio broadcaster Sirius XM, provided that federal regulators sign off on the move, according to documents filed by Liberty with the FCC.
A previous application to take control of Sirius XM was rejected by the FCC in May, at the satcaster’s urging, because it didn’t outline a
plan that would give it control in sufficient detail.
In the latest application, Liberty disclosed that it bought 94.3 million shares in Sirius XM for $243 million last week, giving it a 48% stake in the satcaster. It plans to buy enough stock to increase its stake to over 50% within 60 days of receiving permission from the FCC.
Liberty has also disclosed that it is
planning to spin off its premium cable Starz TV business to raise cash to buy a controlling stake in Sirius XM.
The latest move follows years of maneuvering (and public sparring) by Liberty Media CEO John Malone and Sirius XM boss Mel Karmazin over the fate of the satcaster. Karmazin, who created the company by merging Sirius with then-rival XM in 2007, has fended off repeated bids for control by Malone, who has repeatedly criticized Karmazin’s management.
In February 2009, Liberty acquired considerable leverage over Sirius XM when it extended a $530 million loan to the satcaster, then in financial distress, in return for a 40% stake in the company. Liberty’s total stake in Sirius XM is now worth some $5 billion.