ENGLEWOOD, Colorado ( TheStreet) -- EchoStar ( SATS - Get Report) agreed to buy Hughes Communications ( HUGH), a provider of broadband satellite networks, for about $2 billion, plus debt.

Under the deal, shareholders of Hughes will get $60.70 a share, below the stock's closing price Friday of $61.78. In a press statement Monday, the companies said the deal is a 31% premium to Hughes' shares price of $46.43 on Jan. 19.

The transaction is expected to close later in 2011. The boards of both companies have cleared the deal.

Investment funds affiliated with Apollo Management IV, which own a majority of Hughes' stock, have approved the transaction.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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