But Siriusly

IAC-LIBERTY/TRIALJohn Malone probably won’t lose much sleep over his $530 million loan to Sirius XM Radio. His media empire, Liberty Media, has a market cap of $12.4 billion, so Malone’s 40 percent stake in Sirius XM may be something of a punt. And in the satellite broadcasting industry, Malone certainly has a good leg.

Sirius XM has a big debt pile — $3.25 billion, with $171.6 million due today — but it also has a sexy subscriber base of 20 million users, which rivals the top cable operations in the country. Malone and rival Charles Ergan would have been looking at that number as a palliative for the exorbitant talent contracts Sirius boss Mel Karmazin has (Thanks, KB)  doled out to Howard Stern, Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart.

Liberty shareholders might have wanted Malone to wait for the bankruptcy to hit and bid for the satellites and other pieces. But Ergan, owner of EchoStar and Dish Network and holder of the Sirius XM debt coming due today, would have the pole position in an asset sale.

The satellite radio model banks heavily on a healthy U.S. auto market. U.S. automakers are in Washington today, where they may find a more sympathetic ear with a Democrat in the White House. Keeping satellite radio afloat is probably not among the points that GM and Chrysler will present in their case for more tax-funded support, but perhaps Malone is betting the bailout will ignite a recovery in satellite radio’s fortunes.

Deals News:

* The board of Italian power company Enel SpA meets today to approve buying Acciona’s 25 percent stake in Spain’s Endesa, a source close to the matter said. Other sources have put the value of the deal at about 11 billion euros. The purchase would lift Enel’s stake in Endesa to 92 percent.

Clear Channel closes — finally

drumroll.jpgDrumroll, please: Almost two years after radio station and billboard company Clear Channel Communications began exploring strategic options, its $17.9 billion takeover finally closed on Wednesday.

The deal, slowed by legal battles in two states and negotiations to lower the purchase price, became a symbol of the buyout industry’s glory days and the subsequent struggles of the credit crunch.

Clear Channel had agreed to be acquired by private equity firms Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital Partners last year. The market quickly changed and credit to fund the acquisition became more costly and difficult to secure.

Getting Sirius

howard.jpgOprah, meet Howard. Reports in the Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal say the head of the FCC will support the merger of XM, home to Ms. Winfrey, and Sirius,  where Mr. Stern holds court, removing the last regulatory hurdle to the long-awaited merger of the country’s only two satellite radio operators. Aides to the FCC chief said he decided to give his support after the companies agreed last week to concessions intended to prevent the new company from raising prices or stifling competition among radio makers, the Post reported.  As of last week there was still some static coming from members of Congress, but with the FCC backing the deal it’s unclear how they will make themselves heard.

In his first public comment on the end of the Yahoo/Microsoft merger talks, billionare financier Carl Icahn, said on Sunday the subsequent deal Yahoo forged with Google “might have some merit.” He had previously said a Google deal should be considered a secondary alternative to the Microsoft offer. “While the Google deal is not the same as an offer of $34.375 per share for Yahoo, I am continuing to study it,” Icahn told Reuters. Icahn declined to comment on whether he would continue to press his proxy battle to replace the board of Yahoo.

Belgian brewer InBev warned U.S. rival Anheuser-Busch that it should fully explore its $46 billion takeover offer before doing a deal with Mexico’s Modelo. In a letter that appeared to be aimed at Anheuser-Busch shareholders, InBev suggested that doing a deal with Modelo could impact the value of its $65-a-share takeover offer. Inbev’s Chief Executive Carlos Brito wrote to Anheuser-Busch’s CEO August Busch IV that he was committed to a “friendly combination,” and “we would expect that prior to proceeding with any alternative transaction, especially if your shareholders will not be given the opportunity to vote on it, you would first fully explore our offer and the potential adverse consequences any such transaction could have on the ability of your shareholders to receive our premium offer.”