FTC Approves Vivendi-EchoStar Deal


The Federal Trade Commission has given quick approval to the $1.5 billion
investment by Vivendi Universal S.A. in EchoStar Communications Corp., the No. 2
direct-broadcast satellite company, with about 6 million subscribers.

On Monday, the FTC announced that the deal had cleared under its early
termination process, which typically runs about 30 days. The FTC made the
announcement over a call-in phone line.

On Dec. 14, Vivendi agreed to invest $1.5 billion in EchoStar in return for
carriage of five Vivendi channels on a nonexclusive basis, in addition to other

The deal was cemented about six weeks after EchoStar announced its proposed
merger with DirecTV Inc. to create a 14.9 million-subscriber DBS giant.

The EchoStar-DirecTV deal requires approval from the Federal Communications
Commission and the Department of Justice.

If regulatory approval is denied, EchoStar has to pay DirecTV's corporate
parent, Hughes Electronics Corp., $600 million.

Under the Vivendi deal, EchoStar has to pay Vivendi a maximum of $225 million
within three years if the DirecTV deal is completed and a maximum of $525
million within 30 months if the DirecTV merger is not