Telesat Said to Weigh Takeover Offers From EchoStar, Carlyle

Telesat Holdings Inc., the Canadian satellite company, is weighing takeover offers from EchoStar Corp. and Carlyle Group, and may decide on a possible sale in the coming days, said people with knowledge of the matter.

Telesat also may consider a special dividend as an alternative to a sale if the bids don’t meet expectations, said one of the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. Blackstone Group LP dropped out of a bidding group that includes KKR & Co., the people said.

Telesat, co-owned by Loral Space & Communications Inc. and Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board, is seeking at least $6 billion, one person said this month. Other companies besides Carlyle, the Washington-based private-equity firm, and EchoStar may have also submitted bids.

A purchase of Ottawa-based Telesat would build on other satellite acquisitions by EchoStar Chairman Charlie Ergen this year. EchoStar agreed to buy Hughes Communications Inc. for $2 billion including debt in February. Earlier that month, Dish Network Corp., where Ergen is also chairman, agreed to buy DBSD North America Inc. for about $1 billion.

‘Ergen Style’

“We don’t know the price yet, but in typical Ergen style, I imagine he’ll get a good price for it,” said Amy Yong, an analyst with Macquarie Capital in New York, who has an “outperform” rating on Englewood, Colorado-based EchoStar.

A spokeswoman for New York-based Loral and a Telesat spokesman declined to comment.

Loral fell 30 cents to $77.55 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have climbed 1.4 percent in 2011. EchoStar rose 35 cents to $37.84 to push this year’s advance to 52 percent.

Telesat, the world’s fourth-largest satellite company, owns 12 operational satellites and has 3 under construction, according to the company. Its largest customer is BCE Inc., Canada’s biggest provider of mobile phone, Internet and satellite TV services.

The company said Nov. 4 that it was reviewing its strategic options, including a possible initial public offering. It reported 2010 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of C$625 million.

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