DISH and AT&T Settle Money Move, Street Takes Notice

A money move involving DISH Network and AT&T has gained the attention of some on Wall Street.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing released Tuesday, DISH Network said it received notice from a subsidiary of AT&T that it was requiring the satellite TV company to repurchase a $500 million 3-percent convertible subordinated note. DISH said it has sufficient cash to repurchase the note.

Craig Moffett of Bernstein Research said in a research piece also released Tuesday that AT&T originally acquired the $500 million convertible stake in July 2003, when DISH (then called EchoStar) and AT&T entered into a resale agreement within legacy SBC markets (that deal preceded SBC's acquisitions of AT&T and BellSouth). The partnership was the first of a series of distribution deals between telcos and satellite operators to bundle DBS with phone and broadband.

Still, the money move puts another dent in rumors about an acquisition/merger deal between AT&T and the small dish company, the analyst said.

"The announcement throws yet more cold water on the lingering speculation that AT&T may soon acquire DISH Network," Moffett said. "Publicly exercising a put option and unwinding a financial interest is more akin to beginning divorce proceedings than it is to the start of a mating dance."