Sirius CEO expects Liberty would not keep him on

AP News
Posted: Sep 12, 2012 4:42 PM

Sirius XM Radio Inc.'s CEO Mel Karmazin said Wednesday that he expects Liberty Media Corp. would not want to keep him on if the media conglomerate is successful in its bid to take control of the satellite broadcasting company.

Karmazin, speaking at an investment conference put on by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said he has not had discussions directly with Liberty about the matter. The CEO's contract with Sirius is up at the end of the year.

"My instincts today are that Liberty does not need me at the company," Karmazin said. "We have the terrific organization, a great management team, a great business. The prospects for the company are really terrific."

The conglomerate controlled by cable TV magnate John Malone saved Sirius from near-bankruptcy in February 2009 by agreeing to lend it up to $530 million in exchange for preferred stock. Converting the stock would give it a 40 percent stake. This year, Liberty has been steadily increasing its ownership of Sirius as part of its disclosed plans to take control of the satellite radio broadcaster. It is expected to put a new board in place and spin off the business, along with some of its other assets, by the end of the year if the FCC approves.

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The Englewood, Colo.-based company currently holds 558.6 million shares of Sirius, according to a regulatory filing submitted Tuesday. Combined with the preferred stock, Liberty owns more than 49 percent of Sirius, Karmazin said, adding that Liberty could increase its stake to more than 50 percent within the next few days.

Shares of Sirius were volatile throughout the day and closed down 8 cents, or 3 percent, to $2.42 Wednesday.

Liberty Media shares dropped 77 cents to $102.52.