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DirecTV deal close
February 6, 2001: 7:15 p.m. ET

News Corp. reportedly ready to form new $70 billion satellite company
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is on the verge of creating a $70 billion satellite company, merging existing assets with DirecTV, which he plans to purchase from General Motors' Hughes Electronics, according to the Financial Times.

The FT told CNN's Moneyline a surprise partner in the complex deal is likely to be Microsoft Corp. with a $4 billion-to-$5 billion involvement. The investment would give Microsoft (MSFT: Research, Estimates) access to home consumers across the globe for its set-top boxes.

News Corp. (NWS: Research, Estimates) is likely to pay $8 billion in cash to buy out GM's stake in Hughes Electronics, the paper reported. As part of the deal, Hughes would shed its Panamsat business for $6.5 billion-to-$7 billion.

graphicAfter the deal, Murdoch's Sky Global satellite company would own 35 percent of the new operation, with Hughes shareholders owning the rest.

Also involved in the deal as a "significant investor" would be Liberty Media  chairman John Malone, the paper said.

The boards have yet to approve the deal, the FT said.

A spokesman for Hughes (GMH: Research, Estimates) and GM (GM: Research, Estimates) said the companies will decline to comment on rumor and speculation until there is an actual deal. A News Corp. spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

In December, it was reported that AOL Time Warner, the parent of, was interested in DirecTV.

Shares of Hughes finished $1.41 higher Tuesday, at $27.71, while American depositary receipts (ADRs) of News Corp. rose 20 cents to $37.50. graphic