Now that he has resigned as CEO of Sirius XM, Mel Karmazin says he’d like a new gig — either running an entrepreneurial company with an independent board, or helping New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s efforts to rebuild areas hit by Hurricane Sandy. “I would be the czar…or the pope of the Jersey shore,” Karmazin tells CNBC‘s David Faber. That might make for an interesting reality show. But Karmazin, who had a famous falling out with Sumner Redstone, says “I probably wouldn’t take it to Viacom.” Meanwhile he’s upbeat about the satellite radio company’s prospects, even after cars connect with Internet radio.
UPDATE, 6:56 AM: As interim CEO, Jim Meyer will collect a base salary of $1.3M per year, plus annual bonuses to be determined by the board, in a new contract that runs until October 31, 2013, …
Maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise considering all the will-he/won’t-he stay speculation that’s taken place since Liberty Media‘s John Malone began his takeover effort. Lately it seemed as though Mel Karmazin was warming to the idea of staying, and that Malone would be glad to have the voluble exec — who’s famously a pal of one of Sirius XM Radio‘s biggest attractions: Howard Stern. Karmazin’s decision to bolt suggests that big changes are ahead for the satellite radio company. The smart money is betting that Malone will spin it off at some point in a way designed to minimize his tax hit. But it’s far from clear how long that might take, and how Malone will operate the company in the meantime. Sirius XM says the board has formed a search committee chaired by Liberty CEO Greg Maffei and including Sirius XM directors James Mooney and Eddy Hartenstein, who will “consider both internal and external candidates” to replace Karmazin. Shares are down 1.4% in after-hours trading. Here’s the release:
Deadline’s Executive Editor David Lieberman talks with host David Bloom in Episode 2 of Deadline Big Media. Lieberman discusses whether Mel Karmazin will stay with satellite broadcaster Sirius XM after Liberty Media completes its acquisition; what impact James Murdoch might have on News Corp’s U.S. TV operations if he takes over, as rumored; and who might be interested in spending up to $7 billion to buy the live-entertainment and sports powerhouse AEG from Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz.
The Sirius XM CEO isn’t sure that John Malone’s Liberty Media will want him to stay after it owns more than 50% of the satellite radio company’s stock — something that could happen as early as today. “My instincts are that Liberty does not need me,” Mel Karmazin said at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. “I have historically been expensive…That’s OK with Mel.” But he also says that he’s “open to having a conversation” about staying after. For example, if Liberty decides to spin off Sirius XM then “that would be a situation I might be interested in.” Karmazin says there’s been “no dialogue whatsoever about me coming or going,” including with Sirius XM’s existing board. His current contract expires in December. If he signed a new deal while the company’s future is in flux then “it would look [to shareolders] like I sold out.”
The satellite radio company’s shares are up more than 3.6% in pre-market trading this morning after it beat its own projections, and analysts’, for subscriber growth in Q2. Sirius XM says it added …
Do you believe that Liberty CEO Greg Maffei doesn’t know whether he’ll keep Sirius XM or spin it off if his takeover attempt works? Me neither. But that’s his story and he sticks to it in his interview this morning with CNBC’s David Faber. Maffei adds that he …
Earlier this month Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin crowed that “things have been great” at the satellite radio company. Its stock is up 23% so far in 2012 and “our free cash flow is growing, it’s extraordinary,” he told CNBC’s Jim Cramer. But Sirius sings a different tune in a new lawsuit that accuses SoundExchange — a clearinghouse authorized by Congress to handle music artists’ royalty payments – and the American Association of Independent Music, a trade group, of leading an “industrywide conspiracy” to raise the fees Sirius pays to air recorded music. The groups’ “unlawful conduct” has “significantly raised Sirius XM’s costs, (and) threatened the viability of its business model in a highly competitive and technologically volatile sector of the entertainment market,” it just told the U.S. District Court in New York. Last year the company spent nearly $200M for royalties to play recordings on the 71 of its more than 135 channels that feature commercial-free music. The fees were set by the government’s Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) in a license that expires this year. Sirius says that SoundExchange has asked CRB to more than double its rates — to a maximum of 20% of the satellite radio company’s gross revenues — for a new license that would run through 2017. Although Sirius acknowledges that it’s growing, it “is far from recovering the enormous capital investment (to build the service) and is just at the point where it it beginning to earn a small profit on its investment.”
Mel Karmazin, the satellite radio company’s colorful CEO, is on a victory lap of sorts with his stock up more than 29% so far in 2012. He told CNBC’s Jim Cramer last night that he’s glad to see shock jock Howard Stern become a judge on NBC’s talent show America’s Got …
The satellite radio company’s shares are up 11.4% since early Thursday while other NASDAQ stocks collectively are down 4.4%. What’s going on? Well, it seems that many analysts who attended Liberty Media’s annual dog-and-pony show for them on Thursday came away convinced that Sirius XM is preparing to see John Malone lift his company’s 40% stake well past 50%. He has to wait until March to avoid taking a tax hit on such a move — and we all know how much Malone hates to pay taxes. After that there’d be a tax advantage: Sirius has $8B in net operating losses that could be used to shelter future payments. That’s great now, although the losses “sucked” when the company was racking them up, CEO Mel Karmazin told Liberty investors at last week’s gathering. So, is Liberty interested in buying Sirius? A lot of comments that Liberty CEO Greg Maffei made last week sure make it sound that way. “There are few businesses that I have as much confidence in,” he said. ”Boy, it’s got a heck of a tail wind behind it. Find me another business” with as much opportunity. Sirius’ first consumer rate hike, coming in January, ”is a great opportunity and there’s a potential for more…(Profit) margins will expand….It’s our kind of business.” He added that his company
Investors seemed to like what they heard at today’s annual confab for John Malone’s Liberty Media. Shares of the hodge-podge of companies it either owns or controls were up on a day when the market was shaken by new fears that the European debt crisis will widen. Liberty Starz ended the day +1% and Liberty Capital was +0.5% after their parent said it will combine the two tracking stocks into a single asset-based security. But Live Nation was +6.7%, Barnes & Noble was +5%, and Sirius XM was +4.8% following CEO presentations to the Street.
Malone was more subdued than usual. But the executive who became a billionaire on the back of his devilishly complex deals — often to help him avoid paying taxes — got a chuckle in his response to a question about whether the changes in his tracking stocks will make their businesses confusing for investors. “We’ll get as complicated as we need to get to highlight value.” he said.
Sirius XM’s Mel Karmazin won the biggest laughs, though, with
UPDATE, 6:05 AM: CEO Mel Karmazin says he’s not worried that Sirius XM will lose subs beginning in January when the monthly price will rise to $14.49 from $12.95. “We thought about raising the prices more,” he says. The company monitors consumer comments on social networks, and “we’ve seen them say they understand … there hasn’t been much reaction.” Still, he says that “we’re going to work closely with our ‘save’ desk’ ” to retain subs. He assured investors that he’ll keep costs under control but would consider repurchasing company stock or acquiring another company. “All of the bankers visit us regularly,” Karmazin says. He adds that he’s upbeat about 2012 in part because forecasts show a 1M pickup in auto sales, the main source of new satellite radio subscriptions. “The best is yet to come,” Karmazin says. Investors are less certain: Sirius XM’s share price fell more than 5% in pre-market trading after the company’s conference call. Lazard Capital Markets’ Barton Crockett says he’d give the company a “B” grade for its 3Q performance. The market wants to see sub growth and the latest figure, he says, was “light.”
PREVIOUS, 4:25 AM: The satellite radio company is down about 1% in pre-market trading: It reported 3Q net income of $104.2M, up 54% vs the same quarter last year, on revenues of $762.6M, up 6.3%. While the revenue figure was lighter than the $764.2M the Street expected, earnings of 2 cents a share beat analysts’ estimate of zero. Still, the subscription figures might worry some investors: Sirius XM ended 3Q with 21.3M subs, up 364,004 in the quarter.