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Zee Entertainment to merge with Sony Pictures Networks India; Punit Goenka likely to be MD

10:49 AM Sep 22, 2021 | FPJ Web Desk

Zee Entertainment and Sony Pictures will merge together. In an announcement on Wednesday, the firms said they have received in-principle approval for a merger that will combine both companies’ linear networks, digital assets, production operations and program libraries.

The move to merge Zee comes at a time when the entity is engaged in a boardroom brawl with the company's two largest shareholders expressing non confidence with existing management and seeking an extraordinary general meeting to sack a few directors, including Zee's managing director and CEO Punit Goenka.

Interestingly, under the terms of the merger Goenka is expected to be MD and CEO of the new entity

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"The Board has evaluated not only on financial parameters, but also on the strategic value which the partner brings to the table. The Board concluded that the merger will be in the best interest of all the shareholders and stakeholders," Zeel said in a regulatory filing.

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"The merger is in line with Zeel's strategy of achieving higher growth and profitability as a leading Media & Entertainment Company across South Asia.

According to the filing, shareholders of SPNI, will hold a majority stake in the merged entity.

"The shareholders of SPNI will also infuse growth capital into SPNI as part of the merger such that SPNI has approximately $1.575 billion at closing, for use in pursuing other growth opportunities."

"Based on the existing estimated equity values of ZEEL and SPNI, the indicative merger ratio would have been 61.25 per cent in favour of ZEEL. However, with the proposed infusion of growth capital into SPNI, the resultant merger ratio is expected to result in 47.07 per cent of the merged entity to be held by ZEEL shareholders and the balance 52.93 per cent of the merged entity to be held by SPNI shareholders."

Further, Sony Pictures Entertainment, the parent company of Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI), would invest growth capital so that SPNI has a cash balance of approximately $1.575 billion, SPNI said in a statement.

According to ZEEL, basis the existing estimated equity values of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) and SPNI, the indicative merger ratio would have been 61.25 per cent in favour of ZEEL.

“However, with the proposed infusion of growth capital into SPNI, the resultant merger ratio is expected to result in 47.07 per cent of the merged entity to be held by ZEEL shareholders and the balance 52.93 per cent of the merged entity to be held by SPNI shareholders,” it said.

It also added that Zee Entertainment Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Punit Goenka, who is facing pressure from two largest shareholders of the company - Invesco and OFI Global China Fund LLC - to quit the post, would continue to lead the merged entity.

The term sheet provides an exclusive period of 90 days during which ZEEL and SPNI will conduct mutual diligence and finalize a definitive agreement.

In addition, the filing said that the merged entity will be a publicly listed company in India.

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