Liberty Media in Attack Mode on Sirius XM CEO

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Liberty Media (NASDAQ:LMCA) officials and Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) chief executive Mel Karmazin can’t seem to get along over anything. Liberty CEO Greg Maffei has launched another attack on Karmazin, announcing that the Sirius head could be easily replaced when his contract expires at the end of the year.

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Liberty is close to acquiring the satellite radio operator after increasing its stake to 49.6 percent, and is only awaiting approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

Maffei said Karmazin was “valuable” but not “irreplaceable,” and that there were “plenty of people” who could take over the job the latter has been in charge of since 2004. Maffei added that Karmazin deserved credit for his contributions to Sirius, but “without Mel (Karmazin), the business will not fail.”

MoneyKarmazin, who has publicly expressed displeasure at the possibility of having to work for a new owner, told his company’s investors last week that he was open to contract negotiations with Liberty officials, but largely believed they weren’t interested in retaining him. He added that he may be too “expensive” for Liberty. Karmazin received $10.7 million in salary and bonuses last year.

John Malone-owned Liberty received an initial stake in Sirius in 2009 after loaning the radio $530 million it needed to avoid bankruptcy. While the deal involved a condition that prevented Liberty from trying to assert control for three years, that moratorium expired earlier this year. Liberty’s first ownership appeal was rejected by the FCC after Sirius protested. However, the holding company filed a second application in August after increasing its stake and is still waiting to hear from the agency.

Shares of Sirius XM (NASDAQ:SIRI) finished the week Friday down 1.17% at $2.54.

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