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John Malone's Liberty Media Boosts Sirius XM Stake to 49.7 Percent

Sirius XM Satellite Radio Logo - H 2011

The move will provide material for questions at a Wednesday investor conference that will feature Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin and Liberty CEO Greg Maffei.

John Malone's Liberty Media has further raised its stake in satellite radio firm Sirius XM Radio to 49.7 percent, positioning itself to potentially take a controlling stake.

According to a regulatory filing, Liberty has bought 31 million additional shares to boost its holding in Sirius from 49.2 percent. The company paid about $2.49 per share, or a total of roughly $75 million, in its latest round of stock purchases between late last week and Tuesday.

STORY: Liberty Media Raises Sirius XM Stake to 49.2 Percent

The move will provide material for questions at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in LA later on Wednesday. Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin and Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei are both scheduled to speak there.

The companies and their leaders have been engaged in a showdown over Liberty's hopes to take control of Sirius in recent months. Liberty last month filed a second FCC request to confirm its plan to take outright control.

Karmazin, whose current contract expires at the end of the year, is facing an uncertain future. Maffei and Malone have signaled that Liberty could reshuffle Sirius management, make Sirius buy back stock and pay dividends. Analysts see the potential for a spin-off of the Sirius stake to Liberty shareholders over time.

Liberty helped Sirius avoid bankruptcy in 2009 in a deal that gave it a 40 percent stake in the satellite radio firm, which has continued to grow its subscriber base quickly.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai