Blair Levin, the Stifel analyst that has had a finger on the pulse of this merger throughout the process, issued a note today outlining opinion on the recent news that FCC commissioner Adelstein would sign off on the merger with additional concessions.
In the note published today, Levin notes they doubt that the Adelstein conditions would be acceptable to Sirius and XM, and that the Adelstein proposal will, "only be pivotal if he's joined by Republican Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, who has been seen as the most likely third vote needed to approve the transaction (in addition to Republican Chairman Kevin Martin and Commissioner Robert McDowell."
Additionally, Levin notes that if Tate does not agree with Adelstein that she may well seek her own set of conditions, noting that, "negotiations are now shifting into high gear at the Commission. While it's certainly possible Commissioner Adelstein will be part of the discussions, we still think the more likely scenario is for Commissioner Tate, the two other Republicans, and the companies to come to an agreement within the next few weeks on additional conditions -- including fines to resolve some enforcement disputes..."
On the July 17th SiriusBuzz Radio show, we highlighted that it was our opinion that the Adelstein proposal was likely too stringent for Sirius and XM, and that commissioner Tate was still the important factor. In our opinion, Tate may well seek conditions that fall between the lines drawn by Martin/McDowell and Adelstein. I agree with Levin that Tate may focus on ensuring that whatever language is part of the deal, that it be clearly defined, and have teeth to allow strong regulation.
Certainly things are taking shape. The Adelstein news may delay a Tate decision slightly, as I am sure she will want to fully consider what her counterpart has put on the table.
Position: Long Sirius, XM.