Following the abrupt withdrawal of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation from the battle for DirecTV [WAMN: 29-Oct-01], the media mogul is said to be taking a revived interest in the future of Sky Global Networks.
SGN, which comprises Murdoch’s satellite interests in the UK, Japan, Latin America and Asia, had been up for flotation last year but this was shelved when Newscorp started to pursue DirecTV.
Denying that the withdrawal – purportedly in protest against prolonged foot-dragging by DirectTV owner Hughes Electronics and its parent General Motors – signalled a halt to Newscorp’s stateside expansion plans, a spokesperson insisted: “We continue to have enormous interests in the US TV market. We have the leading television station, the number two ranking network and the fastest-growing cable networks in the country.”
Meanwhile, the victor, EchoStar chairman and chief executive Charlie Ergen, expressed his confidence that his $26 billion (£17.9 billion) acquisition of DirecTV would not founder on the reef of antitrust regulations.
Industry observers, however, do not share the faith expressed by, pointing out that the melding of EchoStar with DirecTV will result in 17 million subscribers depriving some households in rural areas of any choice of provider.
Many onlookers also believe that Murdoch is gambling on the deal’s rejection by competition authorities, leaving the field wide open again – and Hughes’ negotiating position considerably weakened.
News source: The Times (London)