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SEC: News Corp. unloads Echostar stock

$343 million worth of shares sold

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. recently sold 7 million EchoStar shares worth $343 million, according to a newly disclosed regulatory filing.

News Corp. sold the shares in open-market transactions conducted Sept. 6 at an average price of $49. Stock sale was disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by EchoStar.

EchoStar’s Dish Network is No. 2 among U.S. satcasting services to Hughes Electronics’ DirecTV. After General Motors recently hired a pair of investment banks to advise it on the possible selloff of its Hughes unit, speculation ensued that News Corp. might dump its EchoStar stock and make a move on Hughes.

A News Corp. spokesman was unavailable to comment on the newly disclosed stock sale. Selling the shares reduced News Corp.’s stake in Denver-based EchoStar to 11%.

Last year, the Sydney-based media group sold $763 million in EchoStar shares. News Corp. is involved in a plan to package its worldwide satellite interests as Sky Global Networks for an initial public offering next month valued at $23 billion-$25 billion.

(Bloomberg News contributed to this report.)

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