Echostar makes $2 billion bid for Hughes Communications

Echostar (Nasdaq: SATS) has crafted a deal to purchase rival satellite operator Hughes Communications (Nasdaq: HUGH) for about $2 billion, including Hughes debt that will be refinanced in connection with the deal.

News of Echostar's move follows news last month that Hughes' main shareholder Apollo Management was shopping the satellite provider to potential bidders.

At that time, Apollo revealed it received a number of first round bids from from other private equity firms and of course other satellite service providers.

Already approved by the boards of directors of both companies, including its main shareholder Apollo Management, Hughes shareholders will receive $60.70 per share without interest, which represents a premium of 31 percent over Hughes' unaffected closing share price of $46.43 on Jan. 19, 2011. Once the deal meets customary closing conditions and associated regulatory approvals, the deal is expected to be closed later this year.

But what's perhaps even more interesting about this proposed deal is it coincides with rumors that AT&T is once again interested in purchasing not only the assets of Dish (Nasdaq: DISH) but also Echostar. While AT&T (NYSE: T) has continued to grow its U-verse-based IPTV service, reaching nearly 3 million subscribers as of the end of Q4 2010, the service provider has complemented that growth in areas where U-verse is not available by offering satellite-based TV via a relationship with DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV).

For more:
- see the release
- here's FierceIPTV's take on the AT&T rumor
- and FierceCable's look

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