RIL says it was in talks to merge media business with Zee

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MUMBAI: Dependence Industries (RIL) said Wednesday that it had shown interest in merging its media business with Zee Entertainment Enterprises, but abandoned the plan due to differences between the company’s founders and its largest shareholder, Invesco.
RIL’s interest in Zee came to light after Invesco revealed that it facilitated talks between the Indian conglomerate and the company’s founders. The US fund named RIL after Zee revealed that Invesco had approached the promoters with a proposal to merge the company with certain entities owned by an anonymous “large” Indian group.
RIL said that the founders of Zee: Punit goenka and family – had demanded an option to increase their participation in the merged entity by subscribing to warrants, but the US fund did not agree. Invesco believed that founders could always increase their stake in the merged entity through market purchases.
“We … have never resorted to hostile transactions,” RIL said. “We are sorry to have been involved in the dispute between Zee and Invesco.”

RIL’s entertainment and media play is conducted through Viacom18 Media, a 51:49 joint venture between TV18 Broadcast and Viacom, based in the US Viacom18 Media operates a number of entertainment channels such as Colors, MTV, Comedy Central, VH1 and Nickelodeon. The joint venture also handles film production and content syndication.
Invesco said that the potential transaction proposed by Reliance (the ‘strategic group’ referred to but not identified in Zee’s communication of October 12, 2021) was negotiated by and between Goenka and others associated with the Zee promoter family. . “Invesco’s role, as Zee’s largest shareholder, was to help facilitate that potential transaction and nothing else,” the fund said. RIL confirmed that Invesco had helped organize discussions with Zee’s founders and made a “broad proposal” to merge its media properties with Zee in “fair valuations.”
Zee had rejected RIL’s offer over valuation concerns and said it would result in a loss for shareholders.
The recent statements and clarifications are the latest in the growing bitter dispute between Invesco and Zee after the former called for a reorganization of the board, including the removal of MD Goenka. Zee had alleged that Invesco is trying to take over the company “clandestinely”, even while it is in merger talks with Sony Pictures Networks.
“The recent interest from Sony, as well as the earlier interest from Reliance, should be a reminder to all Zee shareholders of the enormous value found in this company, in contrast to its dismal performance under the current leadership and board during the last few years, ”Invesco said.





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