Washington

Georgetown Partners Tells Justice To Nix XM-Sirius Merger

Justice Department Gets Raft of Documents from Private Equity Firm 12/03/2007 05:55:00 AM Eastern

Minority-owned private equity firm Georgetown Partners Monday filed a raft of documents with the Justice Department against the merger of XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio.

XM/Sirius

Both Justice and the Federal Communications Commission are considering the merger, which the companies said will make them stronger competitors in a crowded audio-delivery market and which critics like Georgetown and broadcasters countered will create a monopoly that hurts consumers.

Georgetown has not been opposed to the deal entirely, just as constituted. It wanted it reconstituted so that it is conditioned on requiring XM and Sirius to lease infrastructure and channel capacity to a minority-controlled entity -- say, one backed by Georgetown -- that could provide "effective competition."

But in a strongly-worded letter to Thomas Barnett, who heads up the DOJ’s antitrust division, accompanied by several-hundred pages of documents from filings by others to Justice and the FCC, Georgetown urged Barnett to disallow the merger.

Georgetown was specifically unhappy with reports that while the antitrust division's lawyers and economists have recommended blocking the merger, Barnett was looking for more analysis from the same economists in an effort to apply regulatory "Band-Aids" to what it called a "fundamentally flawed monopoly structure."

"DOJ approval of the proposed merger would represent nothing less than an abdication of DOJ's responsibilities to protect the economic welfare of American consumers," and a "repudiation" of basic horizontal merger guidelines, Georgetown said.

"The investigation is still open," said Justice spokeswoman Gina Talamona, and no official conclusions have yet been drawn.

March