Murdoch Poised to Walk Away Today With DirecTV

09 April 2003

From the horse’s mouth – The Times newspaper, Murdoch’s London mouthpiece – a report that News Corporation and General Motors will today [Wednesday] reach a done deal over DirecTV, the satellite TV operation owned by GM subsidiary Hughes Electronics.

What passes for a smile will briefly flicker across the lips of the former Australian media mogul, now a US citizen, who for two decades has patiently bided his time for a majority stake in DirecTV, fulfilling his long-held ambition for a US lynchpin to complete his global network of satellite TV businesses.

Today’s handshake will seal a cash and shares deal thought to be worth around $7 billion (€6.51bn; £4.51bn), giving NewsCorp ownership or management control of satellite operations in the UK, Italy, Asia (including separate ventures in India) and North and South America.

The Hughes deal is a classic Murdoch manoeuvre. For a relatively modest $7bn it hands him GM’s 20% stake in Hughes plus a further 15% of the publicly owned stock – and managerial control of the whole shooting match. With 11.3 million subscribing US homes, DirecTV is the nation’s largest satellite broadcaster.

In terms of global reach, Murdoch’s web of media assets - newspapers plus terrestrial and satellite TV - make him the planet’s most influential (and political) media magnate – a situation many onlookers, even governments, find alarming.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff