Dish Bonds Plummet on EchoStar Spectrum Transfer Maneuver

(Bloomberg) — Dish Network Corp. bonds plummeted Wednesday after the company announced a move to shuffle assets including valuable spectrum licenses into new subsidiaries, worrying existing debt holders.

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The Englewood, Colorado-based company transferred a handful of wireless spectrum licenses into a new legal entity, according to a Wednesday statement. Dish also said it freed from debt covenants a new unit holding 3 million television subscribers, known in industry parlance as designating an unrestricted subsidiary.

Shuffling assets and creating unrestricted subsidiaries are often preludes to money-raising maneuvers that hurt existing creditors by weakening their claims to collateral. Debt investors have been fighting over particularly aggressive versions of those deals for years.

Dish has roughly $21 billion of obligations, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, and its debt fell deeper into distressed territory after the announced transaction. Its 7.75% notes due 2026 fell as much as 10.75 cents on the dollar to 59 cents as of 9:42 a.m. in New York, according to pricing source Trace.

EchoStar and Dish completed their merger early this year as part of chairman Charlie Ergen’s plan for Dish to pivot from satellite television to wireless service.

–With assistance from Reshmi Basu.

(Updates to add bond chart.)

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