EchoStar to buy Hughes for $2 billion

In a marriage that combines elements of two satellite rivals, Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH) spinoff EchoStar (Nasdaq: SATS) has offered $2 billion to buy several-times-removed DirecTV owner Hughes Communications (Nasdaq: HUGH) and its main subsidiary Hughes Networks.

The deal is a pale shadow of one proffered in 2001 when EchoStar/Dish ponied up $31 billion to buy Hughes/DirecTV. That deal was squashed by the government. In this instance, EchoStar, which still provides set-tops and satellite equipment for Dish Network, is acquiring a company that delivers broadband satellite support for enterprises and other commercial customers but not its rival DBS provider.

The combined company will bring together "Hughes' operational strength and proven record of customer satisfaction with EchoStar's expertise in cutting edge satellite video technology," Hughes President-CEO Pradman Kaul said in a news release.

The deal could muddy the waters for AT&T (NYSE: T) , which, according to a Credit Suisse analyst report is looking to buy EchoStar/Dish, which itself is trying to acquire satellite operator DBSD.

For more:
- see this news release

Related articles:
Hot Stove League: AT&T-Dish Network deal makes sense
EchoStar buys Move Networks, looks to push TV Everywhere services
Satellite stories: Dish buys DBSD; DirecTV blackout could lift
Competition watch: AT&T could have Dish Network, EchoStar in acquisition sights

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