Objectors delay Worldspace auctionNegli Stati Uniti, invece, il Wall Street Journal, qui riportato dalla newsletter Taylor On Radio, sostiene che l'operatore satellitare televisivo EchoStar, sta rastrellando il debito di Sirius XM. In pratica EchoStar va dai creditori di Sirius, versa dei soldi, e subentra come nuovo creditore. La manovra, secondo il quotidiano finanziario, potrebbe servire ad assumere il controllo dell'operatore in difficoltà, per costringerlo ad aprire la procedura fallimentare e cedere a poco prezzo gli asset, le proprietà. Il Wall Street sottolinea come quest'anno Sirius XM dovrà saldare quasi un miliardo di debito e che ci sono molti dubbi sulla possibilità di conservare i contratti per la ritrasmissione della cronache del baseball e del football.
The Delaware Bankruptcy Court has delayed the auction of Worldspace’s assets. The auction is delayed until at least Feb 19, and probably later.
One fresh legal point emerged Feb 3 when it emerged that Worldspace has bought an insurance policy that gives them up to $15m-worth of cover for a Class Action lawsuit that is running against the company, as well as company founder Noah Samara.
The Class Action alleges that Samara and the company in their August 2005 Initial Public Offering, made certain statements that overstated the broadcaster’s subscriber numbers.
A hearing is planned for Feb 5 when further matters will be decided.
EchoStar has "quietly accumulated Sirius XM debt", says the Wall Street Journal.
Object - a takeover? Possibly a squeeze-play to force Mel Karmazin's company into Chapter 11, then swap its debt for equity and grab even more of the cheap debt from other bondholders? The Journal says EchoStar/Dish Network's Charles Ergen could also try to snatch the prize before it gets to Chapter 11, and that "either way, current shareholders would be left with nothing." Why is EchoStar interested? Its own core satellite TV business has been drifting and Ergen's searching for a new strategy. His company could also benefit from the Sirius XM ground facilities and repeaters. You probably couldn't combine the celestial hardware of the TV satellite service and the only remaining satellite radio supplier. But there would be economies of scale with the back-office aspects of the two subscription-based operations.
Mel may be running out of options.
The Journal reporters say that Sirius XM is "up against a wall", with a total of $925 million in debt coming due this year. It's "negotiating hard with Major League Baseball to let Sirius tap into" the $60 million it's got in escrow for MLB. That's payable in March. T-R-I has previously reported that Sirius XM has a hefty payment to the NFL coming up, and the league's worried about getting it. Sure enough, the Journal says Sirius XM "owes $43 million to the NFL on February 17." And car sales, which are critical to Sirius XM hitting its subscriber targets, may actually slump below 10 million vehicles a year. Suddenly - this is high drama.