DirecTV & Dish In Merger Talks, Again

DirecTV and Dish Network are in fresh talks to merge after years of on-again, off-again wrangling and multiple clampdowns from federal antitrust officials, The New York Post reported.

The satellite-TV giants attempted a merger nearly two decades ago but the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department’s (DOJ) antitrust division stopped it. Two years ago, the DOJ also quietly warned executives off a prospective deal, concerned about the nascent rollout of 5G, sources said.

Now, however, insiders are optimistic a Dish-DirecTV deal could pass regulatory muster as concerns about the market power of the struggling companies have waned, sources said. Some executives likewise argue that a merger could give a surprise boost to the US’s troubled rollout of 5G wireless services.

Talks between the satellite-TV giants are being pushed forward by private-equity behemoth TPG Capital, according to sources close to the situation. TPG bought 30% of DirecTV from AT&T in a deal last February that gave the struggling company an enterprise value of US$16.25 billion. 

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“TPG is driving the conversations. They want their investment back,” a source close to the situation said.

But Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen, a former poker player famous for his tough negotiating, appears to be dragging his feet on finalizing a deal, demanding significant voting shares and a say in key decisions at the combined company despite his minority position, according to sources.

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