Three U.S. lawmakers back XM/Sirius merger

WASHINGTON Thu Dec 13, 2007 8:14pm GMT

This combo picture shows an XM Satellite Radio unit (top) and rival Sirius Satellite Radio unit installed in separate private vehicles in Washington February 20, 2007. Three U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers have come out in favor of Sirius Satellite Radio Inc's proposed purchase of its rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc, the companies said on Thursday. REUTERS/Jason Reed

This combo picture shows an XM Satellite Radio unit (top) and rival Sirius Satellite Radio unit installed in separate private vehicles in Washington February 20, 2007. Three U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers have come out in favor of Sirius Satellite Radio Inc's proposed purchase of its rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc, the companies said on Thursday.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers have come out in favor of Sirius Satellite Radio Inc's proposed purchase of its rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc, the companies said on Thursday.

Republican Connie Mack of Florida backed the merger, as did Democrats Joe Baca and Bob Filner of California, the two companies said in a statement.

The Justice Department is evaluating whether the merger of the only two U.S. satellite radio companies would hurt competition. Congress has held hearings on the proposed deal but has no say in the Justice Department's antitrust evaluation.

On Thursday, shares of the two companies rebounded after falling sharply late Wednesday on concerns about whether the merger would win approval from antitrust regulators.

Democrat John Conyers of Michigan, who chairs a House antitrust task force, and Republican Steven Chabot of Ohio sent a letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey earlier in the week expressing concern that senior department officials might intend to approve the merger over the objections of staff lawyers.

In afternoon trading, Sirius was up 16 cents or 4.86 percent at $3.45 a share while XM rose 85 cents or 6.43 percent to $14.06.

Sirius and XM also said that General Motors Corp supported the merger and had urged the Federal Communications Commission to avoid putting conditions on the deal. GM installs XM Satellite Radio in some of its vehicles. The FCC is reviewing the deal to determine its impact on the public.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)

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