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Zee, Sony in discussions to save the called off $10 billion merger: Report

Sony-Zee merger: Punit Goenka, managing director and chief executive officer at ZEEL, has agreed to Sony's demand of him not becoming the CEO of the merged entity

sony zee merger

Raghav Aggarwal New Delhi

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Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) and Sony Group are in discussions that may save the $10 billion merger the Japanese conglomerate had called off on January 22, The Economic Times (ET) reported on Tuesday, citing people aware of the matter. The two companies have held meetings in Mumbai over the last 15 days.

The report added that Punit Goenka, managing director and chief executive officer (CEO) at ZEEL, has agreed to Sony's demand that he not become the CEO of the merged entity. The Japanese major has maintained that Goenka can be an adviser to the merged entity at best.

It also said that Zee will inform Sony if it is willing to accept the terms and conditions over the next 24 to 48 hours. If Zee disagrees, Sony will pull its original application from the National Company Law Tribunal by the end of the week.

READ: We will find another opportunity in India post Zee merger collapse: Sony

In January, Sony terminated the agreement with ZEEL to merge its two Indian entities -- Culver Max Entertainment (earlier known as Sony Pictures Network India) and BEPL-- with the Indian media company.

Sony Group had said ZEEL failed to satisfy merger conditions and also initiated arbitration proceedings before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre around Rs 748.5 crore as a termination fee.

On the other hand, ZEEL filed a petition before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), seeking a direction for Sony Group to implement the merger. ZEEL also initiated legal actions to contest the claims of Rs 748.5 crore filed by Sony Group before SIAC.

The Mumbai bench of NCLT on August 10, 2023, approved the scheme of merger of ZEEL with Sony group entities Culver Max Entertainment and BEPL, which could have created a $10 billion media entity.

READ: What next for Zee Ent: The answer will only unfold in the coming months

If the Sony-Zee merger was completed, the combined entity would have owned over 70 TV channels, two 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 the country.

(With agency inputs)

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First Published: Feb 20 2024 | 9:09 AM IST

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