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Analysts downplay impact of Vogel leaving EchoStar

The resignation of EchoStar Communications Corp. executive VP Carl Vogel caught the satellite industry and Wall Streeters off-guard Friday, but analysts downplayed the long-term impact of his exit on the company’s new partnership with News Corp. and its ability to do battle with other cablers and satcasters.

Vogel had been EchoStar CEO Charlie Ergen’s top exec, but the $2 billion satellite TV alliance with News Corp. (Daily Variety, Feb. 25) no doubt made it easier for Vogel to exit.

Ergen said Vogel would not be replaced. He praised Vogel’s efforts, saying he helped position the company as “a major force in the DBS industry.”

After news of Vogel’s resignation, EchoStar stock slipped 87¢ to $23. But insiders and analysts said they doubted the move would have serious ramifications at EchoStar.

“Carl was an integral member of the team and I’m sure he will be missed, but does it have any long-term ramifications for EchoStar and its business plan?” asked UBS Securities analyst Rick Westerman. “I don’t think so.”

Others said it was well known in the industry that Vogel wanted to spend more time with his family. That desire, coupled with his anticipation of management changes brought on by the News Corp. deal, may have prompted his departure.

One analyst said the impact would have been greater if EchoStar was still an independent operator: “The stock would have been crushed.”

“Ergen is the hands-on guy and it was his vision back in the late ’80s to reposition the company to compete in the DBS (direct broadcast satellite) business,” another analyst said.

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