That Rupert Murdoch was mulling a new bid for US satellite-TV giant DirecTV after the collapse of its merger with EchoStar came as a surprise to nobody [WAMN: 25-Nov-02].
What is now raising eyebrows, however, is the news that he may launch a joint bid with Liberty Media, the investment vehicle of cable entrepreneur John Malone.
Although Malone aided News Corporation’s previous, failed bid for DirecTV, reports from the US suggest that his involvement in the new approach is much greater. Should all go to plan, he would gain an equal stake in the broadcaster with Murdoch.
NewsCorp executives are said to have met with General Motors (owner of DirecTV’s parent, Hughes Electronics) on Wednesday to begin negotiations.
Under the proposed joint venture, the two companies would contribute equally to the estimated $5 billion (€4.9bn; £3.1bn) required to gain the 30% controlling share in Hughes held by GM.
Such involvement is a major step up from Liberty’s $500 million contribution to the last bid. As a result, say insiders at the cable group, Malone does not expect to be a silent partner.
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff