NEW YORK (AP) - Sirius XM Radio said Tuesday that CEO Mel Karmazin plans to step down early next year.
Karmazin, 69, will leave Feb. 1. His contract expires at the end of this year, but he will stay for another month to help transition a new CEO, the company said. He will also leave the company's board.
Karmazin has been Sirius's CEO since 2004. He oversaw the 2007 merger between Sirius and its rival, XM Satellite Radio Holdings, and became CEO of the combined company. Previously he was president and chief operating officer of Viacom Inc. and president and CEO of CBS Corp.
Karmazin helped bring the struggling satellite radio company back to profitability by cutting costs, wooing more subscribers and raising subscription fees. He also signed on talk radio host Howard Stern, who continues to be one of the company's highest-paid stars. Stern's contract runs through 2015.
In August, Sirius XM raised its full-year pretax earnings forecast from $875 million to $900 million and said it expects to add nearly 1.6 million subscribers in 2012. The company had 22.9 million subscribers at the end of the second quarter. It will report third-quarter results Oct. 30.
There was speculation that Karmazin would leave the company after an expected takeover by Liberty Media Corp. Liberty rescued Sirius XM from bankruptcy in 2009 by giving it $530 million in exchange for a 40-percent equity stake. Liberty has since amassed a 47.3 percent share and is seeking a controlling interest. The Federal Communications Commission is currently considering Liberty's proposal.
Liberty Media Chairman John Malone said Tuesday that his company appreciates what Karmazin has done for Sirius XM.
"While we understand, we regret Mel's decision to pursue other interests and are grateful for his willingness to oversee a smooth and orderly transition," Malone said in a statement.
Sirius XM's board has formed a CEO search committee.
Sirius XM shares fell 5 cents to $2.82 in after-hours trading.
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