XM, Sirius receive CRTC approval to merge in Canada

It always amazes me how long media-related changes take to get full regulatory approval here in Canada. It took a year for iTunes to open here after its launch in the U.S., it took nearly three years for Slacker Radio to open its doors here and other ventures such as Pandora and Spotify are still waiting in the wings with no indication as to when (if ever) they will be able to operate here legally.

Today however, we can finally check one more change off the list: XM and Sirius have been cleared for their merger by the CRTC. The new entity, “Sirius|XM Canada,” will become official in June as long as they meet all of the conditions of the merger.

Here’s the full press release for your reading pleasure:

XM Canada and Sirius Canada Receive CRTC Approval to Merge

Merger on track to close by June 2011

Toronto, Ontario, April 11, 2011 – Canadian Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. (“CSR” or the “Company”), parent company of XM Canada (TSX: XSR), along with SIRIUS Canada Inc., welcome today’s Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruling which includes authorization of the transaction that will result in the merger of Canada’s two satellite radio businesses, XM Canada and SIRIUS Canada (the “Merger”).

“This decision will lead to the creation of a stronger combined organization, better equipped to innovate and compete in the broader audio entertainment marketplace,” said Mark Redmond, President & CEO of both SIRIUS Canada and the merged entity. “We are pleased that the CRTC recognized the clear benefits derived from this merger. This is an exciting time for SIRIUS|XM Canada, and we look forward to continuing to offer a world-class entertainment experience for our current and future subscribers.”

“Today’s decision is great news for our subscribers, shareholders, employees and partners, keeping us on track for completing this transaction by June,” said John Bitove, Executive Chairman of CSR. “SIRIUS|XM Canada will now have more than 1.8 million subscribers in Canada, and this merger will create long-term shareholder value.”

In November 2010, SIRIUS Canada and CSR agreed to merge in order to create a stronger platform for future innovation within the Canadian audio entertainment industry. The combined company will leverage key content and programming relationships and distribution agreements with every major automaker and retailers nationwide. Subscribers will continue to enjoy a broad spectrum of commercial-free music channels, plus exclusive sports, talk and news content featuring today’s biggest names in audio entertainment.

At the CSR (XM Canada) annual general meeting held in Toronto on February 17, 2011, shareholders unanimously approved the Merger recognizing that the merger would enhance the long-term success of satellite radio in Canada.

On February 23, 2011, the Competition Bureau issued to the Company a No-Action Letter under the Competition Act, and announced that it did not intend to make an application to the Competition Tribunal to challenge the proposed merger with Sirius Canada Inc. under the merger provisions of the Competition Act, recognizing that the proposed transaction would not likely give rise to a substantial lessening or prevention of competition.

The approximate ownership interest in CSR following closing of the transaction will be as follows, the balance being widely held:

· CSRI Inc., 30.0% voting interest

· CBC/Radio-Canada 20.2% voting interest

· Slaight Communications, 20.2% voting interest

· Sirius XM Radio Inc. (NASDAQ:SIRI) 25.0% voting interest

The Merger remains subject to the satisfaction of certain closing conditions and is scheduled to close by June 2011.


One comment

  1. Grant

    Great news … now hopefully they will be able to concentrate on giving the Canadian Sirius iPhone app a much needed update to allow playing in the background (something the US version has had since shortly after the iOS 4.0 update). I am assuming they held off on updating the Canadian version of the app until after the merger, so they can save some bucks from having to send the app back to the app developer to incorporate the Sirius / XM merger changes.