(Bloomberg) -- Dish Network Corp. shares surged Thursday after the US Federal Communications Commission approved its merger with EchoStar Corp., clearing the way for the deal to close this month and ease debt worries.
As part of the deal, Dish will move under control of EchoStar, which runs a satellite network. Charlie Ergen, who co-founded and chairs both companies, announced plans for the transaction in August.
Shares of Dish jumped 8.2% to $4.29 at 2:57 p.m. in New York. EchoStar rose 7.8% to $12.29.
Read More: Dish to Buy EchoStar as Ergen’s TV Empire Shifts to Wireless
Dish has struggled to transition from a legacy pay-TV business into a wireless communication company, saddling itself with $24.6 billion in short- and long-term debt in the process and effectively cutting itself off from the credit market. A merger with EchoStar, the satellite network it once owned and spun off in 2008, would give Ergen’s empire more funding to expand its 5G buildout and mobile and broadband offerings, including fixed home wireless and Boost Infinite, its low-cost mobile service.
EchoStar, which provides satellite communications through its Hughes Network Systems and EchoStar Satellite Services businesses, had $1.1 billion in cash and $1.6 billion in debt as of September.
Read More: Dish Sees ‘Narrow Window’ to Address Its Growing Financing Needs
The companies expect to close the merger transaction before the end of 2023, Dish said in a statement.
Since Ergen leads both Dish and EchoStar, the transaction brings “no substantial change of ownership or control,” the FCC said in its statement approving the deal Wednesday.
The merger eases pressure on Dish’s debts and is essential to its near-term funding, Jonathan Chaplin of New Street Research wrote in a note Thursday.
“Closing the deal will remove the biggest hurdle to Dish being funded through 2024,” Chaplin said, noting that $2 billion of debt will mature in December 2025. “Dish has almost two years to figure things out.”
Last month, Dish plummeted to its lowest in 25 years after the mobile broadband and satellite programming provider reported “astonishingly bad” third-quarter earnings, according to MoffettNathanson analysts. The shares were down 72% this year through Wednesday’s close.
--With assistance from Scott Moritz.
(Updates with shares in third paragraph, company statement in sixth paragraph)
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