Mel Karmazin Speculates His Reign as Sirius XM Radio CEO Will End Soon
Liberty Media could announce as early as Wednesday that it has acquired a controlling stake in Sirius XM Radio, the satellite service’s CEO Mel Karmazin said. He also indicated that Liberty might not want him around much longer.
“My instincts today are that Liberty does not need me,” Karmazin said at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Los Angeles.
“I have historically been expensive, and, you know, it’s very clear to me that if I were Liberty, I would sit there and say, ‘I’m not sure we need Mel.’ And that’s OK with Mel,” he said, referring to himself in the third person.
Karmazin’s contract as CEO of Sirius XM runs through the end of the year. Liberty has been purchasing shares on the open market, driving the stock higher in recent months. Between the recently acquired shares and the preferred stock it already had, Liberty owns slightly less than 50 percent of the company, according to a recent filing.
Karmazin said he has had little contact with Liberty’s John Malone or its CEO, Greg Maffei, since Liberty began its quest in May to control Sirius XM -- not when Liberty tried unsuccessfully to get de facto control and not since it began purchasing large chunks of stock.
“Liberty and we have not been having any conversations at all about what they are going to do,” Karmazin said. He speculated, though, that Liberty would install a new board of directors and retain the company's current auditors.
Karmazin said he plans to stick around while control for the company remains in flux, but he will not negotiate a new contract during these uncertain times for the company because he wants to avoid the appearance of “conspiring against minority shareholders.”
Maffei was scheduled to speak at the same conference later Wednesday.
Liberty has filed its request with the FCC to take control of Sirius XM, though a 30-day period of public comment hasn’t been set. When Sirius and XM merged, a similar 30-day period stretched to 17 months, but Karmazin said he expects Liberty’s gambit to be much quicker and noncontroversial.
The Sirius-XM merger was completed in 2008.