Liberty’s Maffei Says Karmazin Could Be Replaced at Sirius

Sirius XM Radio Inc. (SIRI) doesn’t need Mel Karmazin to succeed, said Liberty Media Corp. Chief Executive Officer Greg Maffei, addressing speculation his company seeks the ouster of the satellite-radio carrier’s CEO.

While Karmazin has done a “great” job running Sirius, plenty of people could replace him, Maffei said today at a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. conference in New York. Karmazin, whose contract ends Dec. 31, said Sept. 12 his instincts told him Liberty didn’t need him at Sirius.

Liberty, which according to Maffei holds about 49.6 percent of Sirius shares, has informed the Federal Communications Commission it intends to take control of the company. Liberty Chairman John Malone said in July he plans to spin off the stake in New York-based Sirius, a move Karmazin said might increase his interest in staying.

It’s unclear whether Karmazin wants to lead Sirius, which has gained 37 percent this year in New York trading through yesterday, under Liberty’s management, Maffei said.

Karmazin, who received $10.7 million in salary and bonus last year according to data compiled by Bloomberg, said this month that Liberty may not want to retain him because he’s “expensive.”

Patrick Reilly, a Sirius spokesman, didn’t immediately return a phone message today.

Liberty, based in Englewood, Colorado, probably won’t increase its stake in Sirius past 50 percent until it wins approval from the FCC, Maffei said later in an interview.

Sirius rose 3.2 percent to $2.57 at the close in New York. Liberty climbed 1.7 percent to $104.14.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net

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