Report: News Corp., GM, MS talk satellite merger

Talks are being held between top executives at News Corporation, Microsoft and General Motors to combine News's Sky Global Networks with GM's Hughes Electronics.

          Talks are being held in Detroit between top executives at News Corporation, Microsoft and General Motors in an effort to combine News Corp.'s Sky Global Networks with GM's Hughes Electronics, according to a report published Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal newspaper.

          Hughes Electronics, based in El Segundo, California, owns the digital satellite entertainment service DirecTV, which also operates a number of partnerships with Microsoft.

          Present at the high level discussions were News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer and GM CEO Rick Wagoner, according to the report.

          A Microsoft official declined to comment on the story. Officials from News Corp. and GM could not immediately be reached for comment.

          GM and News Corp. reached preliminary agreement on combining Hughes Electronics with Sky Global Networks over two months ago, in a US$60 billion deal that would include Microsoft as a major investor, but have since be blocked from moving forward due to opposition from Hughes shareholders and Hughes Chairman Michael Smith, according to report.

          The current talks, which a News Corp. official described as constructive, are being held in an attempt to make the merger more palatable to the Hughes investors, the report said.

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