Mel Karmazin to Step Down as CEO of Sirius XM Radio

58 BIZ Mel Karmazin
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As Liberty Media closes in on taking control of the satellite-radio company, the exec says he'll leave early next year.

Mel Karmazin will step down as CEO of Sirius XM Radio at the end of his contract period Feb. 1, the satellite firm said Tuesday.

Karmazin became CEO of Sirius Satellite Radio in November 2004, announcing he would join the company shortly after Howard Stern signed on with the service. Perhaps Karmazin's most notable achievement during his reign was to merge Sirius with XM, a time-consuming task that involved extensive political maneuverings. The merger became official in June 2008, and Karmazin has been CEO of Sirius XM since.

The merged company, though, has been through some difficult financial times that might have led to bankruptcy had LIberty Media not stepped in with needed cash nearly three years ago. Since then, Liberty has said it intends on purchasing enough debt and shares to take control of Sirius XM, and Karmazin has indicated that he might not remain CEO if that happened.

STORY: Liberty CEO Leaves Options Open for Future of Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin

Karmazin also oversaw explosive growth at Sirius, and then at the merged Sirius XM, as well. The company recently boasted 22.9 million subscribers. 

On Tuesday, Sirius XM also said Karmazin, 69, will resign as a board member the same day he steps down as CEO.

"Given where we started, it is amazing that Sirius XM has grown to become the largest radio company in the world," Karmazin said Tuesday.

"We appreciate the tremendous job Mel has done for the company in overseeing the merger and delivering outstanding operating performance," Liberty chairman John Malone said Tuesday. "While we understand, we regret Mel's decision to pursue other interests and are grateful for his willingness to oversee a smooth and orderly transition."