Liberty's John Malone Says Sirius XM Will Be Independent If He Takes Control

Malone controls shares convertible into more than 40% of the satellite radio company stock — but he’s talking like Sirius XM will soon be his based on news coverage of his comments to reporters at Sun Valley. The Liberty Media Chairman said that he’d “prefer not to lose” Mel Karmazin, but the Sirius XM CEO “said he won’t work for me so what am I supposed to do?” Malone didn’t mind taking a few jabs at Karmazin, though. He says that the former Viacom No. 2 exec — who had a famous falling out with Chairman Sumner Redstone — “needs to go back in history, transport himself back in time, mend his fences with Sumner and go be a new person. Relax, enjoy his success, bask in the glory, and enjoy his job. He does a great job. We love him.”  Malone scoffed, though, at Karmazin’s claim that he’s underpaid. “It’s a joke. He’s clearly doing it tongue-and-cheek. He has an enormous equity incentive.”  Malone is asking the FCC to give Liberty de facto control over Sirius XM’s broadcast licenses. So it’s interesting that he says he had dinner last night with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, although the Liberty chief declined to say what they discussed. If Liberty persuades regulators to recognize Liberty’s de facto control, then “there is no barrier to us having actual hard control.” What then?  “There’s no question that eventually Sirius will be an independent company. The question is in what time frame and under what circumstances.” Sirius XM shares are up 1.7% on a generally flat day for the market.

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