Advanced Television

Zee, Sony merger moves closer

April 24, 2023

By Chris Forrester

The on/off merger talks between Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) and Sony Group have resumed. ZEEL is in advanced talks with its creditors in order to settle debts and remove one remaining problem with its sale to Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony Corp.

ZEEL owes $18.1 million to ISBI Bank, and other cash to Axis Bank. IndusInd Bank has withdrawn its objection to the deal and suggesting that its debts have been met by ZEEL. Invesco Developing Markets Fund, which was a significant investor in ZEEL (18 per cent shareholding) confirmed it had sold its holding in April.

If/when the agreement closes the end result will be a $10 billion media behemoth but with ZEEL holding just 3.99 per cent of the final business. Sony will hold just over half the new company’s shares, with public shareholders holding the rest.

The combined business will be India’s biggest in terms of reach and viewership.

The merger scheme has been on the go since September 2021 when the paid announced they had reached a non-binding agreement to bring the businesses together.

The combined entity will own over 70 TV channels, 2 video streaming services (ZEE5 and Sony LIV) and two film studios (Zee Studios and Sony Pictures Films India), making it the largest entertainment network in India.

Its closest rival in the Indian market is Star and Disney.

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