Vivendi Universal said Wednesday that it has an agreement to sell its stake in EchoStar
Communications Corp. to EchoStar for $1.066 billion in cash, payable Dec. 23.
That's about $500 million less than what Vivendi paid for the 10 percent stake when
it bought it in 2001. Vivendi has recently been
selling off some investments to cut back on debt.
For EchoStar's part, it was left with a lot of cash to shop with following the
dissolution of its deal to buy Hughes Electronics Corp.'s DirecTV Inc. unit. It paid Hughes a $600
million breakup fee, but it was not forced to pony up the $2.7 billion for Hughes'
interest in financially deteriorating PanAmSat Corp. that it was originally on
the hook for. That left it with about $3.7 billion to "continue to seek
alternative, innovative ways to provide competition to the rapidly consolidating
cable industry and to provide more choices for all consumers," according to
chairman Charlie Ergen at the time.