End Near for XM/Sirius Merger Review?

Is the end near for the XM/Sirius merger review?

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin and company leaders recently expressed hope that any regulatory scrutiny of the proposed satellite radio combination would be wrapped up by the end of the month. Last week, there was more action at the FCC among all parties that have an interest in the deal, and that has apparently led to more staff activity on the transaction.

As Blair Levin of Stifel Nicolaus said, "We believe that we are close to the end though we admit we have believed this before."

He added, "As has been true with so many times with this transaction, there are multiple ways to interpret the data points, but none, in our view, is conclusive as to the result or the timing."

Levin and Stifel Nicolaus said they don't think the FCC staff has yet coordinated with the Justice Department, which is handling the antitrust review of the deal, in terms of a final conclusion. "But we would not be surprised if the FCC has some inkling about the timing and is seeking to have a draft order ready to be sent to the commissioners shortly after the DOJ announces its decision," the analyst said.

Levin said the Justice Department "remains the big - and silent - hurdle in the XM/Sirius merger."

The companies first proposed combining operations in February 2007.