Is Ergen in DirecTV hunt?


Analysts say EchoStar's new debt offering last week was a way for EchoStar chief Charlie Ergen to raise money to bid for DirecTV parent company Hughes Electronics, which some believe may change hands before next year (see story, opposite page).

EchoStar increased its previously announced offering of senior notes from $600 million to $1 billion. The notes bear an annual interest rate of 10 3/8% and mature on Oct. 1, 2007. But analysts were skeptical about Ergen's ability to snatch rival DirecTV. Besides needing another $40-$50 billion to make the deal, getting federal approval would be no easy task, analysts say. EchoStar has 4.3 million subscribers; DirecTV has around 10 million.