[Satellite TODAY Insider 07-16-12] Liberty Media is planning to spin off Sirius XM Radio into the largest satellite-radio company in the United States following efforts to take control of the broadcaster, Liberty Media Chairman John Malone confirmed July 13.
Liberty Media unveiled its original plan to assert control of Sirius XM Radio in May after receiving approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Malone said his firm plans to spin off Sirius XM, DirecTV and Liberty Global into their own publicly held companies.
“If I’m in control, I like to have separate companies, run independently, with public shareholders investing in that business,” Malone said in a statement to investors and media. “There is no question eventually Sirius will be an independent company. The question is, in what time frame and in what circumstances?”
Liberty’s investment in SiriusXM includes a $530 million load it issued to the broadcaster in 2009. Since then, Liberty raised its effective stake in SiriusXM to 46.2 percent and has told the SEC and FCC it intends to take over the satellite radio company by buying more shares. Liberty added its intention to nominate more people for election to the SiriusXM board to security a majority. Though Liberty currently has five representatives on SiriusXM’s 13-member board, its FCC petition includes a reference to replacing the entire SiriusXM board after acquiring sufficient shares of stock.
Sirius XM Radio holds airwave licenses issued by the FCC, which requires Liberty Media to acquire a separate approval to complete a takeover. Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin has opposed Liberty control in its own FCC filings.
Karmazin requested approval from the FCC in April to take de facto control of Sirius XM after restrictions on its stake expired. He also denied the existence of any conflict between Sirius XM and Liberty Media. “If the time comes that Liberty’s interests are different than the other 60 percent of shareholders, we will do what we have to do to protect the interest of our 60 percent of shareholders,” he said.