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What EchoStar Might See in Sirius XM

"There is a lot of value to the satellites that Sirius and XM have up in the sky," said David Joyce, analyst with Miller Tabak. "There's value in buying the company simply for some of those assets on the cheap. Each satellite is generally worth $200 million to $300 million. While the equity value of Sirius being $500 million, and even though they have over $3.5 billion in debt, it makes the enterprise value about $4 billion."

Craig Moffett, senior analyst with Sanford Bernstein, argues that the physical assets may not necessarily be what EchoStar is targeting, if it is indeed looking to acquire Sirius XM.

"The issue, I think, is that this is potentially a very valuable franchise with a unique quasi-monopoly position in the automobile," Moffett said. "The company is starved of capital but not starved of potential growth. An investor with sufficiently deep pockets can buy what is potentially a very attractive franchise on the cheap."

Moffett said that Sirius XM is a perfect candidate for a takeover by Ergen, who has targeted several high-growth businesses in the past. In 2007, EchoStar was rejected in its attempt to take over Ion Media before acquiring Sling Media. Additionally, EchoStar was very active in the Federal Communications Commission's auction of 700-megahertz spectrum, winning a large chunk with $711 million in bids.

"No one understands the microeconomics of the satellite business like Charlie Ergen," Moffett said. "He knows the economics of the business as well as anyone on earth. He actively looks for opportunities to reinvest the cash that his business generates for a new growth opportunity."
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