The Business On... Charles Ergen, Chairman, EchoStar


Who in heaven's name is he?

Look to the night sky – you might see one of his satellites blinking at you.



An American Rupert Murdoch?

Denver native, 57 years old, chairman of one of the biggest pay-TV operations in the US, with a fortune estimated at $5.2bn. Not bad for a guy who started out by flogging cheap satellite dishes from the back of his van in 1980.



Smart guy, then?

He has always been about the calculated risk. He is hardly the onlydeal-doer who has sometimes been a pro blackjack player on the side, but he might be the only one thrown out of a casino for counting cards.



He keeps himself to himself?

Analysts complained that they had to try to wangle their way to his annual poker evening if they ever wanted to get to meet him.



What is he up to?

He is staking his claim to the next frontier of technology – wireless broadband. And he has been using all his poker-playing acumen to win the battle for the heavens.



The battle for the heavens?

There's only so much wireless spectrum to go round, so EchoStar and savvy hedge funds are amongst those looking to snap up smaller satellite operators on the cheap. Harbinger Capital, the famous hedge fund run by Philip Falcone, is amongst those Mr Ergen appears to have got the better of.



Mr Falcone is a wireless broadband evangelist, yes?

Indeed. He has even started LightSquared to buy and resellspectrum. But in a skirmish over a bankrupt operator called TerreStar, Mr Ergen has beaten Mr Falcone at his own game, buying up lots of unwanted TerreStar bonds so that EchoStar can control the financial restructuring and buy the company.



With the result that...?

More spectrum gives EchoStar a chance of launching satellite smartphones, online video services, you name it. Mainly though, it's the satisfaction of another hand well played.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?