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Dish’s Charlie Ergen Says Merger With DirecTV Feels ‘Inevitable’

Stephanie Sengwe

Reports that the Dish Network will merge with DirecTV first surfaced in last September, however, AT&T denied those claims stating, “DirecTV is an important part of what we’re going to be doing going forward.”

Now, it seems the merger is bound to happen as Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said the deal feels “inevitable” during Dish Network’s Q4 2019 earnings call today.

Back in October, Fox Business reported that private equity firm Apollo Global Management, along with another banker, were looking into a deal with AT&T that would allow the company “to offload some of the risk” of DirecTV and maintain its satellite business. The deal also would merge DirecTV and Dish into one company managed by AT&T. The investment firm would provide financing for the transaction and hold a minority equity stake along with Dish, but AT&T would still maintain control of DirecTV and its more than 20 million customers

Though the deal would get AT&T about half of the $49 billion it paid for DirecTV in 2015, the benefits of having it in place outweigh the losses, Fox Business reported. It is structured in a way that relieves AT&T of its $20 billion DirecTV debt.

It’s been a rough path since AT&T acquired DirecTV — as the pay-TV service has seen massive losses. The service peaked in 2016 with 21 million subscribers, but with continuing losses that saw the company lose a whopping 945,000 traditional pay-TV subscribers between the DirecTV satellite TV and U-Verse services in the fourth quarter.