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DirecTV Sales Part of Thomson Stake

7/31/2001 03:52:00 PM Eastern

Paris, France - Direct broadcast satellite provider DirecTV has sold 4.1 million of the 12.9 million shares it holds in Thomson Multimedia, based here, the companies announced.

The U.S. DBS provider's DirecTV Enterprises unit, a subsidiary of Hughes Electronics, sold the stock primarily to private investors in France through Goldman Sachs 'in order to contribute to the development of its activities.'

DirecTV acquired the shares in December 1998, when Thomson, formerly predominantly owned by the French government, looked to lessen the government's stake in the operation by opening shares to strategic partners and other investors.

The disposal was performed according to the agreement of 1998, and reduces DirecTV's equity stake in Thomson multimedia to 8.8 million shares (or 3.1 percent of the capital).

DirecTV remains a member of Thomson's board and of its strategic committee.

Following the announcement of the transaction, DirecTV and Thomson Multimedia said they intend to reinforce their strategic partnership in the areas of interactive set-top box receiver systems supply and development.

During the first half 2001, Thomson Multimedia's market share of DirecTV set-top boxes grew to 63 percent, the company said. The two companies said they would pursue their cooperation in the areas of interactivity, storage and broadband access to DirecTV programs.

Thomson Multimedia had sales totaling $8.3 billion in 2000 and 73,000 employees in more than 30 countries.