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DirecTV Retires Part of GM Stake

The GM pension fund sells almost half its holdings back to the satellite broadcaster.
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Rupert Murdoch-controlled



will buy back 100 million common shares from the pension plans run by former parent




The move will cut the GM pension plans' stake in satellite TV broadcaster DirecTV roughly in half. GM sold its stake in DirecTV to Murdoch's

News Corp.


in December 2003.

DirecTV said Monday that it will pay $15.50 a share in cash, a 1% discount to Friday's closing price. The stake amounts to 7% of DirecTV shares outstanding. After the transaction closes on March 3, the GM Employee Benefit Plans will hold 115 million DirecTV shares.

The news comes just weeks after DirecTV unveiled a $3 billion buyback plan, as shareholders keep an eye on the company's strategic direction. Late last month,

reported that DirecTV and rival




joining up to launch a nationwide wireless broadband network.

"We view this announcement as a slight positive as it may lessen some overhang on the DTV shares," writes Prudential's Kathy Styponias, who rates DirecTV underweight and has a $17 price target. "However, we believe investors have already priced in $3 billion of buybacks, and GM's shares do not represent incremental repurchases of equity."

On Monday shares in DirecTV were trading up 11 cents to $15.79.