Murdoch Takes Driving Seat at DirecTV Negotiations

23 April 2001

In a bid to revive the ebbing chances of realising his “dream of a lifetime”, Rupert Murdoch has personally intervened in the protracted negotiations to gain control of America’s leading satellite broadcaster, DirecTV.

Murdoch’s closely held Sky Global Networks satellite mammoth has for months been enmeshed in cold-tepid-hot-cold discussions with General Motors to acquire Hughes Electronics, the GM-controlled parent of DirecTV.

Success would creat a global broadcasting colossus with an estimated worth of $70 billion – a billion bucks for each year of the life of the Australian-born tycoon – and realise his overwhelming ambition to become the globe’s dominant figure in satellite broadcasting.

Murdoch will today visit Detroit to personally present Sky's bid to a senior GM line-up at which GM president Rick Wagoner and other members of his board are expected to attend. The Sky team has also mustered its heavyweights: chief executive Peter Chernin and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft (which will be involved in financing a Murdoch deal) will also be in attendance on the NewsCorp side of the table.

Two months back, Murdoch seemed poised for victory only to see it snatched from his grasp after objections from Hughes’ chairman Michael Smith and several major shareholders [WAMN: 12-Mar-01; 07-Feb-01].

Today’s session is not expected to produce an immediate decision, GM's board being unlikely to consider the deal formally until early May. Meantime, the lips of all concerned are firmly zipped about the matter.

News source: Wall Street Journal