As Liberty Media is already over 49% ownership of SiriusXM, inching very close to controlling the company, Liberty CEO Greg Maffei took a step back in addressing all of the speculation that Liberty would spin the company off after it gains control: “We are in no rush to get out of the Sirius stake,” he said 9/12 at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. He said that Sirius XM, which has more than 22.9 million subscribers, could one day make up the core of Liberty, reported Reuters.
Maffei, however did add that a tax-free spinoff could be further off on the horizon: “At some point (a spinoff) may become logical but I don’t see that as something we need to get done in the near term.”
Liberty, controlled by billionaire chairman John Malone, acquired an initial stake of about 40 percent in Sirius in 2009 as part of a deal in which it loaned the satellite radio provider $530 million to help stave off bankruptcy.
In August, Liberty Media filed a new application with the FCC to take control of Sirius XM. The FCC has so far not responded to Liberty’s application.
Maffei said at the conference that Liberty is seeking a hearing at the FCC as soon as possible. His comments come just hours after SiriusXM CEO Mel Karmazin told investors at the same conference that he may leave the company when his contract expires at the end of the year.
RBR-TVBR observation: One thing that sticks with us is Maffei’s comment that once Liberty gains control of SiriusXM, his company would push Sirius to use the technology it has developed internally. That basically means that many different things could be done with the service—beyond audio. Remember, there still are a bunch of satellites out there between the former XM and Sirius that could be put to other uses, while the service still serves its current subscribers.