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Karmazin: Merger Delay Could Signal ‘Good News’

3/12/2008 12:36:00 PM Eastern

New York — Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin told investors the fact the Justice Department (DoJ) has not yet ruled on the proposed Sirius/XM merger may be a sign it will not block the deal.

“Clearly if there was a big problem with the merger, it wouldn’t take the DoJ this long to figure it out. The fact that it’s lingered this long is interpreted by our advisors that it’s good news,” Karmazin said at a Bear Stearns media conference this morning.

The Sirius executive also pointed out that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may approve the merger prior to, or simultaneously with, the DoJ as it did in the recent sale of DirecTV by Rupert Murdoch to John Malone.

“I know [FCC] chairman Martin said in 99 percent of the cases the DoJ would go first … but in looking at the DirecTV situation, it’s possible that” both regulatory agencies would “rule simultaneously or close to simultaneously,” he said.

Karmazin admitted that he was interested in a merger from the time he joined Sirius in November, 2004.

He quipped, “We remain very confident and very frustrated” as the regulatory process moves beyond 13 months.

Sirius noted last August it had 140 lawyers viewing documents for the regulatory agencies and it submitted 12 million pages of documents.

Karmazin reiterated that Martin recently indicated the merger decision could come by the end of March. In addition, he said the boards of both Sirius and XM recently extended the “drop deadline” for the merger from March by 60 days. “So, again, we believe we can get it done in that time frame,” Karmazin said.

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