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Murdoch Sells More EchoStar Shares

September 15, 2000|From Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch sold 7 million shares of EchoStar Communications Corp. worth $343 million this month. The Australian billionaire is viewed as a candidate to buy EchoStar's rival, DirecTV.

Murdoch sold the EchoStar shares Sept. 6 at $49 each in open-market transactions, a 13D filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said. The sale reduced Murdoch's stake in EchoStar to 26 million shares, or 11% of the outstanding shares, according to the filing.

Littleton, Colo.-based EchoStar is the No. 2 U.S. satellite television broadcaster. Hughes Electronic Corp.'s DirecTV is No. 1.

Murdoch acquired his EchoStar stake last year after he gave up plans to start his own North American satellite network, selling his assets to EchoStar.

In December, Murdoch sold 11 million EchoStar shares at $71 each, a sale worth $763 million after expenses, Thursday's filing said.

General Motors Corp. recently said it is willing to sell all or part of DirecTV's parent, Hughes Electronics. DirecTV is worth $36 billion to $44 billion, about 70% of Hughes' total valuation, according to analysts.

EchoStar shares fell $2.13 to close at $46.31 on Nasdaq.

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