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SkyFORUM Views Merger Odds

By Monica Hogan
Multichannel News
5/1/02 10:20:00 AM

New York -- Wall Street analysts didn't share the unmitigated optimism about the approval chances of a proposed direct-broadcast satellite merger that the companies' leaders voiced at SkyFORUM here Tuesday.

EchoStar Communications Corp. CEO Charlie Ergen and DirecTV Inc. CEO Eddy Hartenstein both said chances are good that the Department of Justice will OK the merger between EchoStar and DirecTV parent Hughes Electronics Corp. once all of the facts are reviewed.

State attorneys general should also back the merger once they realize how the number of DMAs delivering local broadcast channels via satellite within their given states will expand, Hartenstein said.

Of four Wall Street analysts on an afternoon panel, only Bull Path Capital Management analyst Rob Kaimowitz thought the odds were greatly in favor of the merger. All four Wall Street analysts, however, said EchoStar is the satellite stock to own whether or not the merger is approved.

The analysts debated whether SES Americom's proposal to enter the U.S. DBS market would help the merger's chances.

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