UPDATE 1-Sirius XM names insider Jim Meyer as interim CEO
Dec 19 (Reuters) - Sirius XM Radio Inc named Jim Meyer as interim chief executive officer on Wednesday and said a search committee was considering the longtime executive as the full-time CEO.
Meyer, currently president of sales and operations at the company, had emerged as a leading contender to replace Mel Karmazin, Reuters had reported. His appointment takes effect immediately, and Karmazin will "relinquish his role" as CEO and resign from the board.
"Given Jim's current position, we expect this will be a seamless transition," Sirius XM Chairman Eddy Hartenstein said in a statement.
Meyer will also join the company's board.
The timing of Meyer's appointment was unexpected since Karmazin was not scheduled to step down until February.
"It surprised me that it came the way it did," said Gabelli & Co analyst Brett Harriss. "This doesn't preclude Meyer from taking the helm. I'm sure the guys at Liberty have thought who they want to run it."
The executive shuffle at Sirius comes as one of its major shareholders, Liberty Media Corp, tries to gain a controlling interest in the satellite radio company. Currently, Liberty holds a 49.8 percent stake in Sirius but appears to be making the major decisions at the company.
A committee was formed to search for a CEO of Sirius. Along with Hartenstein, the committee includes Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media, and Sirius board member James Mooney. Sirius XM said on Wednesday that the committee was considering internal and external candidates, including Meyer.
Karmazin, who had been CEO since 2004, had previously said he did not want to work for a controlling shareholder, which may have been one of his reasons for leaving Sirius XM.
With 23 million subscribers, Sirius is the largest U.S. satellite radio provider, but it faces competitors that include online music services Pandora and Spotify.
Sirius XM shares rose 0.7 percent to $2.98 in premarket trading.