Hughes Electronics

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Hughes Electronics Corporation was formed in 1985 when Hughes Aircraft was sold by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to General Motors for $5 billion. The surviving parts of Hughes Electronics are today known as the DirecTV Group.

Howard Hughes donated Hughes Aircraft to the newly formed Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1953 as a way of avoiding taxes on its huge income. Hughes left no will and following his death in 1976 there were numerous claims to his estate. In 1984 The Delaware Court of Chancery appointed eight trustees to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The same year they decided to sell Hughes Aircraft, this was completed the next year.

General Motors merged Hughes Aircraft with its Delco Electronics unit to form GM Hughes Electronics (GMHE). The group then consisted of:

  • Hughes Aircraft
  • Delco Electronics
  • Hughes Space and Communications
  • Hughes Network Systems

In August 1992 GM Hughes Electronics purchased General Dynamics' Missile Systems business. In 1994 Hughes Electronics introduced DirecTV, the world's first high-powered DBS service. In 1995 Hughes Electronic's Hughes Space and Communications division became the largest supplier of commercial satellites. Also in 1995 the group purchased Magnavox Electronic Systems from the Carlyle Group. In 1996 Hughes Electronics and PanAmSat agree to merge their fixed satellite services into a new publicly held company, also called PanAmSat with GMHE as majority shareholder.

In 1997 GM transferred Delco Electronics to its Delphi Automotive Systems business. Late in the year the defense operations of Hughes Electronics (Hughes Aircraft and missile business) were merged with Raytheon. The remaining companies remained under the Hughes Electronics name and within GM.

Hughes Space and Communications remained independent until 2000, when it was purchased by Boeing and became Boeing Satellite Systems.

In 2003 the remaining parts of Hughes Electronics: DirecTV, DirecTV Latin America, PanAmSat and Hughes Network Systems were purchased by NewsCorp from GM and renamed The DirecTV Group. Newscorp sold PanAmSat to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) in August 2004.

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