Sidelined XM Satellite CEO Panero To Step Down

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Six years ago, Hugh Panero sat in a replica of Capt. James T. Kirk's command seat on the Starship Enterprise from "Star Trek" and pushed the button that launched XM Satellite Radio's service.

Now, that chair is soon to be empty. Panero, XM's chief executive and co-founder, said yesterday that he planned to leave the District company next month. Nate Davis, who is president and chief operating officer at XM, is to assume the role of interim chief executive.

Panero's duties have diminished in the year since he recruited Davis, then a director. When plans to merge XM and Sirius Satellite Radio of New York emerged in February, Panero became the odd man out. If the merger is approved by regulators, the combined company would be run by Sirius chief executive Mel Karmazin. XM Chairman Gary M. Parsons would continue in his role.

Panero negotiated the first deal that put XM radios put into new Cadillac models. But the company's board grew displeased with his performance when XM missed earnings guidance for several consecutive quarters. Since then, Panero has been largely sidelined.

In a memo to employees, Panero, 51, recalled starting the company in a basement on 23rd Street NW n the District, with six employees, an FCC satellite radio license and a Power Point presentation explaining "how we were going to change radio." He said he would remain satellite radio's "biggest fan."

-- Kim Hart

© 2007 The Washington Post Company