, its stock hammered by a
news release, accused the DirecTV operator of trying to interfere with a proposed financing.
Shares in Pegasus fell $14.58 to $27.07 Friday. The 35% drop followed
Hughes' assertion Thursday evening that not only had Hughes ceased mediation talks with Pegasus over certain litigation, but also that Pegasus' securities prices bore no relation to the company's value to Hughes.
Shares in Pegasus had nearly quadrupled to $51 of late, apparently driven by investors' hopes that Hughes -- in which Rupert Murdoch's
has recently taken a controlling stake -- would conclude the mediation by acquiring Pegasus.
Pegasus has the right to distribute Hughes' DirecTV direct broadcast satellite service in certain rural areas.
Calling Hughes' Thursday press release "misleading and improperly motivated," Pegasus Chairman Marshall Pagon said in a statement that Hughes mischaracterized a Thursday morning meeting between him and new Hughes CEO Chase Carey, a meeting which Pagon said "focused on a general discussion of our respective businesses."
Based upon Hughes' press release, "which bears no relationship whatsoever to the matters discussed by Mr. Carey and me ... I can only conclude that DirecTV is seeking to intentionally damage the value of our equity and debt securities and thereby interfere with the successful completion of our recently announced financing," said Pagon.
On Tuesday evening, Pegasus had said it intended to sell $100 million in senior notes to finance a similarly sized tender offer for certain outstanding debt securities.
"Indeed, it would appear from their press release that DirecTV's larger purpose is to seek to acquire our DirecTV business at a substantial discount to the value that our bondholders and preferred equity holders are legally entitled to," said Pagon.
Oppenheimer analyst Thomas Eagan, reiterating a sell rating on Pegasus Friday morning, wrote that DirecTV's announcement "further weakens Pegasus' negotiating position, in our view, in its hope to be acquired by DirecTV. ... It is our view that time is not on the side of the Pegasus investor because of the impact of continued subscriber losses on its valuation."
Oppenheimer has not done recent banking for Pegasus or Hughes.