House Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI) and committee member Steve Chabot (R-OH) have fired off a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey urging that all due time be taken to consider the proposed merger of satellite audio services XM and Sirius. The legislators were concerned that department staff objections to the merger were being steamrolled by Assistant AG for Antitrust Thomas O. Barnett.
News of the letter was damaging to both stocks. At least one analyst said that there was justification for fears of DoJ staff rejection of the merger, but that such a move could still be rejected in favor of the merger by senior lawyers there. The merger would still have to get past the FCC even if the DoJ does wave it through.
Conyers and Chabot claimed to have no stated position on the merger at this point, but urged Mukasey to preserve his ability to effectively participate in the process.