Dish director quits after disagreement over handling of LightSquared deal

Gary Howard steps down after an independent committee signed off on the multi-billion dollar deal that will provide hefty profits for Dish chairman

Dish director Gary Howard stepped down from the Denver-based company’s board amid misgivings over how Dish handled its bid for a telecommunications firm that has the potential to provide hundreds of millions of personal profits to Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen. 

Howard’s resignation came following a special board committee’s recommendation of its $2.22 billion bid for LightSquared, which has the potential to payout a massive sum to Ergen, The Wall Street Journal reported. Howard, a nearly eight-year veteran of the Dish board, served as the chief operating officer of Liberty Media until his retirement in 2004. His resignation does not specifically cite any dispute.

In an August earnings call, Ergen said he was in ‘“an awkward position, obviously’ with regard to Dish’s bid for LightSquared, but added that the independent special committee signed off on the offer and ‘a lot of stuff is done external to me,”’ according to the Journal.

In a related legal action, on Sept. 9, Ergen asked a court to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Philip A. Falcone’s Harbinger Capital Partners LLC against him and an entity that are offering $2.22 billion in cash to buy LightSquared Inc. out of bankruptcy, saying the suit is an attempt to derail his offer, according to Bloomberg.

Dish has been embroiled in other legal disagreements this year, with one recent ruling coming out in its favor.

In July, the 9th Circuit sided with consumers of Dish Network and its commercial-skipping technology, called Hopper, which debuted in May 2012. Spearheading the claim that the technology violated copyright laws was Fox Broadcasting, which sought to block the “Auto-Hop” feature of Hopper. On July 24, the 9th Circuit upheld a lower court’s ruling rejecting Fox’s request.

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