Will This Move Give Liberty Media Control of Sirius XM Radio?

Liberty Media (LMCA) is bumping up its stake in Sirius XM Radio Inc. (NASDAQ:SIRI) from 40 percent to 45.2 percent after the Federal Communications Commission last week prevented it from taking over the company.

Investing Insights: 6 Early Buzzers: Cisco and Priceline.com Decline, Monster Surges 13%.

Liberty chief Greg Maffei told analysts in a conference call on Tuesday that his company had a contract in place to buy 302 million shares of SiriusXM for $650 million at $2.15 a share from undisclosed sellers.

The price represents a slight discount from Monday’s closing price of $2.17. SiriusXM fell 3 cents to $2.14 Tuesday after Maffei’s announcement.

Liberty has been struggling for control over SiriusXM since March when it requested the FCC give it control of the operating licenses SiriusXM needed to broadcast its satellite radio service. Liberty argued that its 40 percent ownership and five out of 13 seats on the board meant it had “de facto” control of SiriusXM.

SiriusXM chief Mel Karmazin derided Liberty’s attempt to convince regulators to grant it control without a more than 50 percent stake in the company. Now it seems Liberty is working toward that goal, but why go for 45.2 percent — why not the full 51 percent?

In his company’s earnings call yesterday, Maffei alluded that he believed 45.2 percent would be enough to persuade the FCC to hand over the licenses. “As far as de facto control, my layman’s understanding would be we have a certain series of rights by contract with SiriusXM,” said Maffei.

Investing Insights: Your MUST-READ Morning Stock Futures Cheat Sheet: Range trading.