Sirius and XM approved for merger


No, we’re not recycling an ancient story. Three years after the two satellite radio companies merged in the US their Canadian sister companies have gotten regulatory approval to do the same.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) released its decision Monday (4/11) allowing Canadian Satellite Radio Inc. (CSR – the affiliate of XM) to merge with Sirius Canada Inc. Both also received one year license renewals, which become effective September 1, 2011 and run through August 31, 2012.

The Canadian satellite competitors said they faced “significant financial challenges, the CRTC noted, and that they expected to save $20 million within 18 months by being allowed to merge. Despite filings in opposition to the merger, the CRTC decided that allowing it would “offer clear benefits to the Canadian broadcasting system and to Canadian consumers.”

Once the deal closes, the merged company will take the name Canadian Satellite Radio Holdings and its public stock will trade on the Toronto Exchange. CSRI Inc., owned by John Bitove, will be the biggest shareholder at 30.0%; US-based Sirius XM will own 25.0%; CBC/Radio-Canada 20.2%; Allan Slaight’s Slaight Communications 20.2%; with the remaining 4% or so in public hands.

“This decision will lead to the creation of a stronger combined organization, better equipped to innovate and compete in the broader audio entertainment marketplace,” said Mark Redmond, President & CEO of both Sirius Canada and the merged entity.  “We are pleased that the CRTC recognized the clear benefits derived from this merger.  This is an exciting time for Sirius|XM Canada, and we look forward to continuing to offer a world-class entertainment experience for our current and future subscribers.”

“Today’s decision is great news for our subscribers, shareholders, employees and partners, keeping us on track for completing this transaction by June. Sirius|XM Canada will now have more than 1.8 million subscribers in Canada, and this merger will create long-term shareholder value,” said Bitove, Executive Chairman of CSR.

Canada’s antitrust watchdog, the Competition Bureau, approved the merger in February. The merger remains subject to the satisfaction of certain closing conditions and is scheduled to close by June 2011.