By the end of its first decade, Sirius XM had blanketed the country with satellite radio coverage, but on Wall Street the signal was growing faint. On Feb. 11, 2009, Sirius XM shares fell as low as five cents. Years of big spending had finally caught up with the firm, and the credit crisis would be the finishing touch. Hours before filing for bankruptcy, Sirius got a lifeline from cable pioneer John Malone's Liberty Media (ticker: LMCA).
"We thought the market had overreacted," says Greg Maffei, Liberty's CEO, looking back on those panicked days. "And that Sirius was in a bind not of its own making." • Liberty provided a $400 million loan to Sirius, which granted Liberty the right to acquire 40% of Sirius' equity for a nominal sum. It was a sweetheart deal for Liberty, which now owns a controlling stake in the company. But it allowed Sirius to live another day, and as the economy improved, the company gradually found its rhythm.