XM, Sirius Extend Merger Deadline

NEW YORK XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio extended by two months a deadline to potentially terminate without penalty their year-old merger agreement.

The original deadline would have expired March 1, but both companies signaled in the days leading up to it their intentions to extend it. U.S. regulators, particularly the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice, have yet to decide whether to approve the merger.

The companies said that they are optimistic both agencies would approve the deal shortly. The friendly deal, valued at about $4.6 billion when it was announced, calls for XM shareholders to receive 4.6 Sirius shares for each XM share held.

Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin had remained optimistic that the merger would be complete at the end of 2007, even while referring to it on occasion as “an uphill battle.”

Not only has Karmazin’s timetable been trashed, but the one-year anniversary of the deal struck on Feb. 19, 2007, also has passed, a significant milestone when you consider more than 200 mergers have been completed since then, each taking an average 110 days to complete.

Still, government bureaucrats aren’t in any hurry. In fact, 10 months into the process, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, asked the Justice Department not to “rush through” an approval, if there is to be one.

“We wait by our telephone,” said Karmazin during a Sirius earnings call last week. “But we really have not heard anything from them. It has been more radio silence than anything else.”