XM, Sirius to merge

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Satellite radio networks XM and Sirius announced on Monday, Feb. 19, their intent to merge into one as-yet-unnamed company by the end of 2007.

“The companies will continue to operate independently until the transaction is completed and will work together to determine the combined company’s corporate name and headquarters location prior to closing,” the companies announced.

Together, the two networks have about 14 million subscribers, including many truckers drawn to the 24-hour offerings of sports, news, talk and music and the companies’ rival trucking channels. XM’s Open Road (Channel 171) features Bill Mack, Dave Nemo and Overdrive Trucking News, while Sirius’ Road Dog Trucking Radio (Channel 147) features Carl P. Mayfield, Mojo Nixon and the Midnight Trucking Radio Network.

The merger will expand, not limit, customers’ listening choices, the companies said, while offering no initial details. “The combined company is committed to consumer choice, including offering consumers the ability to pick and choose the channels and content they want on a more a la carte basis,” the companies said.

Advanced entertainment offerings and real-time traffic and weather data are in the works, too, the companies said.

By setting aside XM-vs.-Sirius competition, the companies better can focus on the challenges posed by broadcast radio, iPods, mobile phone streaming, HD radio, Internet radio and next-generation wireless technologies, the companies said.

Mel Karmazin, Sirius chief executive officer, will become CEO of the combined company, while XM Chairman Gary Parsons will become chairman of the combined company, the companies said. XM CEO Hugh Panero will continue in his current role until the merger is complete, the companies said.

The new company’s 12-member board of directors will include Karmazin, Parsons and four members designated by each company, plus one representative each from General Motors and American Honda, the companies said. “Further management appointments will be announced prior to closing,” the companies said.

The new company will “enhance availability of satellite radios, offer expanded content to subscribers, drive increased advertising revenue and reduce expenses,” Karmazin said.

XM stockholders will receive 4.6 shares of Sirius stock for each XM share they own, the companies said. XM and Sirius shareholders each will own about half the new company, the companies said.