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News Corp. close to buying Hughes subsidiary, GM says

SHARE News Corp. close to buying Hughes subsidiary, GM says

DETROIT — General Motors Corp. and News Corp. are close to completing talks that would result in the sale of Hughes Electronics, a GM subsidiary, to the media and entertainment company headed by Rupert Murdoch, a GM spokeswoman said Tuesday.

"Talks are going well," GM spokeswoman Toni Simonetti said. "They're just defining the agreement."

While refusing to speculate on a time frame for completing the deal, Simonetti said the talks, which have been under way for more than 18 months, are "rounding the corner."

There have been periodic reports over that time frame that the talks were either close to completion or collapse.

Andrew Butcher, a spokesman for News Corp., said Tuesday, "We remain in talks with GM and Hughes and the talks are progressing."

GM officials have said the automaker is anxious to unload Hughes in order to focus more attention on its core automotive business.

News Corp.'s interest in Hughes is focused on its DirecTV company, the leading home satellite television provider in the United States with 9.5 million subscribers. News Corp. owns the Fox TV network and has satellite TV operations in Asia, Latin America and Europe.

Colorado-based EchoStar Communications Corp., which operates the much smaller Dish Network, a competitor of DirecTV's, also had hoped to be a strong suitor for Hughes, but Simonetti said "the board hasn't asked for anything" related to EchoStar.

In May, GM vice chairman Harry Pearce was appointed Hughes chairman in order to reinvigorate the stalled sales talks.