BUSINESS & FINANCE

EchoStar Communications reached a $25.8 billion deal to acquire Hughes Electronics and its DirecTV subsidiary from General Motors, allowing it to become the US's leading provider of home satellite TV service. The agreement was made after rival bidder News Corp. pulled a long-standing offer for Hughes off the table. DirecTV has 10 million subscribers; EchoStar's Dish Network, 6.7 million. The combined company would serve about 17 percent of the pay-TV market, according to a GM statement.

In a deal worth $2.1 billion, Cabot Industrial Trust agreed to be acquired by privately held Calwest Industrial Properties, the companies announced. Calwest is a joint venture of the largest US public pension fund, California Public Employees Retirement Systems, and RREEF, a real-estate pension-fund adviser. Cabot is based in Boston.

The chairman and chief executive of United Airlines' parent company, James Goodwin, resigned under pressure and was replaced on at least an interim basis by board member John Creighton, the retired head of timber giant Weyerhaeuser Corp. Creighton, who has no experience running an airline, said he'll hold the post only until United is "on the road to financial stability." In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which involved the hijacking of two United jets, Goodwin generated controversy for the carrier by warning in a letter to employees that it would "perish sometime next year" unless its pattern of losses was reversed.

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