Sirius XM said Tuesday that CEO Mel Karmazin has informed the board of directors of the satellite giant that he will leave the company effective Feb. 1.
Karmazin’s departure comes as no surprise – he has locked horns in the past with Sirius XM’s largest shareholder, John Malone’s Liberty Media.
Liberty originally bailed out Sirius in 2009 with a $530 million loan that included warrants to about 40% of its outstanding shares. In the past several months, Liberty has made moves to gain control of the satellite radio giant and has made it clear that the company could survive without Karmazin at the helm.
"SiriusXM is an extraordinary company with an incredible team. It is an honor to come to work here every day where we truly deliver the best radio on radio. I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished,” Karmazin said in a statement. Given where we started, it is amazing that Sirius XM has grown to become the largest radio company in the world. With a 'deep bench' of corporate talent, a roster that includes the most in-demand on-air personalities and a wide-range of exclusive programming, Sirius XM has never been better positioned than it is today. We continue to grow our subscriber base to record levels and our financial position has never been stronger. Importantly, the commitment to delivering innovative new products and technologies is very strong. Sirius XM has a strong foundation to build on for the future and there is a great team in place to keep the company moving forward. I am confident that Sirius XM's best years are ahead."
Sirius’ board of directors has formed a search committee, chaired by Liberty CEO Greg Maffei and including Sirius chairman Eddy Hartenstein and industry veteran James Mooney, to search for Karmazin’s replacement.
"On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to thank Mel for his significant contributions to the company," Hartenstein said in a statement. "Under his leadership, the company underwent a transformative merger and a financial restructuring that has enabled Sirius XM to deliver significant value for shareholders. Our record breaking financial results are a testament to Mel's leadership and strategic planning, and we continue to exceed our expectations with all-time high subscriber numbers. Thanks to Mel, we are well-positioned for long-term growth and value creation. We will miss Mel — and the Board wishes him the very best in his future endeavors — Sirius XM has a strong executive team in place and we are very confident in our business and our future prospects."
Malone also praised Karmazin’s efforts.
"We appreciate the tremendous job Mel has done for the company in overseeing the merger and delivering outstanding operating performance. While we understand, we regret Mel's decision to pursue other interests and are grateful for his willingness to oversee a smooth and orderly transition," Malone said in a statement.