After informing the Federal Communications Commission last March of its intentions to take control of the satellite radio provider Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI), Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) finally received regulatory approval to assume broadcast licenses from the company on Thursday. As Sirius operates using satellites licensed by the FCC, securing the agency’s agreement was mandatory.
Liberty Media said in filings made with the agency that it will buy enough shares to own more than 50 percent of Sirius common stock within the next 60 days.
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When Liberty Media first purchased its stake in Sirius XM in 2009, the world was a much different place and the company a much different business. When Liberty Media’s original Investment Agreement was dated and signed that March, the country was near the trough of the financial crisis and Sirius’s stock had fallen to $0.05 per share in anticipation of the company being forced to file for bankruptcy.
But three years can make quite a difference. In 2010, the company became profitable after decades of losses, and on November 1 of last year, Sirius released its third-quarter earnings report, showing that the company’s average revenue-per-subscriber had increased, and revenue had beat analysts’ expectations by $2 million. Now, it has satellite radios installed in approximately two-thirds of all new automobiles and 23.4 million subscribers.
The company received a stake in Sirius after providing a $530 million dollar loan to stave off the satellite radio provider’s bankruptcy. Liberty Media, which also owns stakes in Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) and the concert promoter Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE:LYV), purchased 40 percent of Sirius in 2009. It increased its stake to 49 percent in September 2012, and in August submitted a filing with the Federal Communications Commission to increase its stake beyond 50 percent.
Chairman John Malone said last July that he plans to spin off Sirius as a separate company after taking full control.