U.S. Satellite Broadcasting saw its stock prices rise more
than 38 percent last Wednesday, reaching $10 at one point.
Volume last week was much heavier than typical for the
stock, at 1.22 million shares traded on Wednesday alone. The heavy volume led to
speculation that USSB may finally sell its direct-broadcast satellite interests at 110
degrees west longitude to DirecTv Inc. The rumor has surfaced regularly over the past few
years, but analysts could not say whether there was any substance behind the latest
speculation. DirecTv and USSB refused to comment on the rumors.
Analysts believe there may be increased pressure on the
companies to merge, following the recent deal between EchoStar Communications Corp. and
News Corp.'s American Sky Broadcasting. But they also believe that the Hubbard
family, which controls USSB, does not want to sell the company, at least not at the $10
per share that DirecTv is rumored to be offering. At its initial public offering, USSB
stock traded for $28 per share.
TCI Satellite Entertainment is also attracting the
attention of the financial community. According to a TSAT bondholder, who asked not to be
named, a number of bondholders held a conference call last week to discuss a possible
lawsuit against PrimeStar Inc.'s owners or management. The bondholders want to
determine whether PrimeStar failed to uphold its fiduciary responsibility when it was
unable to negotiate a restructured deal with News Corp. following the Department of
Justice antitrust suit.
A spokesman for PrimeStar said the company never comments
on rumors or threatened litigation.
At press time, no suit had been filed against TSAT.