Karmazin Out, Sirius XM Names Meyer Interim CEO

With longtime CEO Mel Karmazin headed out the door as part of Sirius XM’s acquisition by Liberty Media, the satellite radio broadcaster has named James Meyer, previously the company’s president of sales and operations, to the position of interim CEO.

Meyer, who is joining the company’s board of directors, will serve as CEO until a permanent replacement is selected.

The task of finding a permanent CEO falls to a search committee drawn from Sirius XM’s board of directors, including Liberty Media president and CEO Greg Maffei, who is heading the search committee; Sirius XM chairman Eddy Hartenstein, the CEO of Tribune Co., and James Mooney, chairman of Virgin Media. The search committee will consider both internal and external candidates to fill the top slot, including Meyer.

Meyer has been with Sirius XM since 2004 -- joining the company before Karmazin. His areas of expertise, including OEM partnerships with car makers, are important to the company’s current growth strategy, which is focused on selling subs to new car buyers.

In his new position, Meyer will receive a salary of $1.3 million a year, plus bonuses based on performance.

Karmazin’s departure follows several years of public sparring with Liberty Media CEO John Malone over the fate of the satcaster. Karmazin, who created the company by merging Sirius with then-rival XM in 2007, fended off several 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. More recently, over the course of 2012, Liberty has moved to increase its stake to over 50%; the acquisition is still awaiting approval by the FCC.

 

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