Sirius XM and billionaire John Malone's Liberty Media (LINTA), which controls DirecTV, are reportedly in advanced talks that would see Liberty make an undisclosed investment and become a "white knight" for the satellite radio operator, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the matter.
If true, the move creates a tense situation with DirecTV facing rival EchoStar (SATS - Get Report), which sells set-top boxes and was the former parent of Dish Network (DISH - Get Report), in a showdown for control over Sirius XM.
EchoStar and its CEO Charles Ergen had accumulated part of a $300 million tranche of Sirius XM debt set to mature on Feb. 17. Ergen has reportedly offered to restructure Sirius XM's debt and inject several hundred million dollars of capital into the company in return for control. Sirius XM was approached with the offer late in 2008 and declined, reports have stated, although the proposal still remains on the table."It makes sense for Sirius to talk to DirecTV about financing alternatives," said Fred Moran, managing director and media analyst for the Stanford Group. "Clearly, Sirius has next to no chance of getting any help from banks or lenders. If Sirius can get some financing help from DirecTV, it may unlock terms that are better than entering bankruptcy and ceding control to EchoStar." Time may be running out for Sirius XM. The New York Times reported Tuesday that Sirius XM may file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection "within days," and that it had been working with a restructuring expert and a bankruptcy lawyer to prepare for such a filing.