Liberty Media, the media company owned by John C. Malone, is in preliminary talks with satellite radio giant Sirius XM Radio, people briefed on the negotiations told DealBook.
A deal between Liberty and Sirius XM could throw a wrench in takeover plans by EchoStar, the television satellite company that has been acquiring Sirius XM’s debt.
The high drama comes at a critical time for Sirius XM, which faces $175 million in debt payments that will come due on Feb. 17. The company is unlikely to be able to meet those obligations.
Mel Karmazin, Sirius XM’s chief executive, has been locked in talks with Charles W. Ergen, his counterpart at EchoStar, these people said. The two men are said to not get along, and Mr. Karmazin has rebuffed Mr. Ergen’s advances before.
White Knight? Who knows? We could sure use one!
While EchoStar’s proposal to Sirius XM is unclear, it may be no better for the satellite radio’s company’s bondholders than a bankruptcy filing, people close to the company said. Sirius XM hired advisers several weeks ago to prepare for a potential bankruptcy filing, which could come within days, these people said.
It is not clear how advanced the talks between Sirius XM and Liberty are, but any potential deal between the two could spark a bidding war with EchoStar. Because EchoStar holds a large portion of Sirius XM’s debt — a majority of the $175 million due on Feb. 17 and part of a $400 million tranche that comes due in December — it may have an upper hand in any such negotiations.
–Andrew Ross Sorkin and Zachery Kouwe
An interesting twist in this story is Liberty Medias connection to Direct TV.