Hughes Expected to Get Satellite Pact

Hughes Space & Communications International is expected to win a $1-billion contract today to build a satellite system that would provide communications services to the Middle East. Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications of the United Arab Emirates is expected to announce that it has selected the General Motors subsidiary in El Segundo to build a satellite that would bring mobile phone service to 1.8 million people in 49 countries from India to Morocco. Representatives from both countries spent Wednesday working out final details. Two weeks ago, Thuraya selected Hughes--over rivals Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Md., and France's Aerospatiale--as the preferred bidder and said it wanted to sign a final contract by today. One analyst has said the agreement to design, construct and launch the satellite could represent up to 20% of Hughes' manufacturing backlog. Hughes Space & Communications is the world's largest manufacturer of commercial satellites. Thuraya was formed in January and is owned by Etisalat, the UAE's telecommunications monopoly, and nine other firms. Shares of GM's Class H stock rose 6 cents to close at $65.75 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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