Murdoch Unopposed in US Hughes Auction After SBC Withdraws

02 April 2003

Rupert Murdoch now has a clear run at America’s biggest satellite-TV operator Hughes Electronics after his only serious rival dropped out.

Telecoms group SBC Communications, which entered the auction in February [WAMN: 10-Feb-03], on Tuesday told General Motors that it would not be bidding for the auto giant’s stake in Hughes, owner of satellite-television network DirecTV. The telecoms group reportedly decided the move posed too much of a risk.

That leaves Murdoch’s News Corporation as the only bidder. Liberty Media was expected to make an offer, but recently decided to back the NewsCorp bid instead [WAMN: 10-Feb-03].

There may still be some involvement in the auction from cable operator Cablevision, but this is unlikely to turn into a serious offer to rival NewsCorp.

The Murdoch empire – which has long coveted DirecTV as the jewel in the crown of its global satellite portfolio – is now said to be finalising a cash bid for GM’s stake in Hughes plus enough publicly listed shares to give it a significant minority holding.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff