Staff lay-offs begin at XM

The merger between New York-based Sirius and Washington-based XM Satellite Radio wrapped earlier this summer, but now the lay-offs have reportedly begun.

Sirius-XM is looking to make annual cost-savings of some $400m, and as quickly as possible. Rumours have circulated for weeks about impending lay-offs, and now they have begun. Some 50-80 staffers have been let go, mostly from XM in Washington, as the two overlapping businesses make some rationalisation changes. Personnel and channels are going.

Washington-based disc jockey Matt Baldassarri, who until last night hosted a show called "Night Prowl" on which he played music from the '50s, said he was shocked when he found out he'd lost his job, reported the Washington Post. Baldassarri had got married a week and a half ago and just returned from his honeymoon to the bad news.

In New York Sirius-XM boss Mel Karmazin says the company can manage to refinance its massive debt burden. $1.1bn is due to be repaid or refinanced next year, with $300m due in February. Wall Street, however, seems not to be looking quite so optimistically at the forward prognosis. Sirius-XMís shares fell another 5% on Oct 14, albeit in a volatile market. The talk on the street is that Sirius-XM WILL be able to refinance, but it might cost a punitively high 15% in interest rate.