FCC Starts Satellite Merger Clock; Analysts See Slow Haul

Some analysts see the chances of approval for a XM-Sirius merger slipping away, even though the FCC has now begun the official merger review process and invited public comments on the deal.
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Some analysts see the chances of approval for a XM-Sirius merger slipping away, even though the FCC has now begun the official merger review process and invited public comments on the deal.

Bank of America analyst Jonathan Jacoby said in a report to clients that although the FCC generally tries to issue a decision within 180 days of starting its merger review clock, the agency can always pause the process if it needs more info.

Typically, the commission starts a review within 30 to 45 days of a merger announcement, Jacoby said; however in this case, the clock didn’t start for more than 75 days — “making it the longest period ever to begin an FCC merger review process, to our knowledge.”

BOA believes the earliest a decision might occur from the commission is early 2008 — pushing it into an election cycle in which anything can happen — if the clock doesn’t stop. And remember, this is a separate merger review from the one to be conducted by the Justice Department, though that process is less transparent, according to Bear Stearns analyst Bob Peck in a client report.

Got thoughts about the merger? Initial comments and petitions to deny are due at the FCC July 9, and responses by July 24 to MB Docket 07-57.

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