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Sirius-XM Satellite Radio Merger Likely to Pass Soon

A merger between satellite radio providers XM Satellite Radio and Sirius, once in doubt over regulatory hurdles, now seems headed for approval by the end of the year.

Momentum appears to be building that both the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission are prepared to OK the deal, which according to Bear Stearns could bring some $5 billion in synergies.

Dec. 5 looks like a possible deadline for the approval, as it would constitute 180 days since a second request to companies for information. Approval of the deal would require changing of a rule that prohibits one company from owning the entire satellite radio spectrum.

The FCC on Tuesday sent letters to XM and Sirius asking for information regarding concessions should the deal get approval. The FCC was seeking information on distribution contracts, programming and other information.

Thomas O. Barnett, who heads the DOJ's anti-trust division, is expected to sign off on the move, despite staff opposition.

The shareholder vote, at which both sides are likely to overwhelmingly approve the measure, is scheduled for Nov. 13. The key to finalizing the deal beyond the regulatory approvals is cost.