DirecTV talks ongoing

News Corp. sells Echo stock

HOLLYWOOD — Talks with parties interested in acquiring General Motors’ Hughes Electronics unit are continuing this week, with News Corp. and EchoStar still in the hunt for the DirecTV parent.

Separately, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. revealed in a regulatory filing that the media group has reduced its stake in satcaster EchoStar to 7.5% from a previous 10.8%. Sydney-based News Corp. sold 8 million Class “A” shares in Littleton, Colo.-based EchoStar for $28 each, or a total $224 million, on the open market Aug. 30.

Murdoch and EchoStar topper Charlie Ergen have been knocking heads over their mutual lust for DirecTV for months. News Corp., the world’s fifth-largest media company, now holds about 18 million Class “A” EchoStar shares, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents.

EchoStar shares fell $1.80, or 6%, to $20.84 Tuesday, and News Corp.’s U.S.-listed stock fell $1.95, or 7%, to $24.45 Tuesday. Hughes shares fell $1.80, or 13%, to $12.30, and GM was off 59¢ at $44.01.

“We are slowly but surely getting back to daily business, and we are in discussions this week,” GM spokeswoman Toni Simonetti said.

Last week’s terrorist tragedies had “slowed” the negotiations, she added.

(Bloomberg News contributed to this report.)

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