Sony-Zee-Sony merger expected to take few more months

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Sony-Zee-Sony merger expected to take few more months

Sony has said that the acquisition of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. and Culver Max Entertainment, which is Sony Pictures Networks India, will take a few more months. The soon-to-be-released Zee-Sony merger was expected to be completed by the end of September.

The deal between Zee and Sony was approved by the National Company Law Tribunal on August 10 this year, dismissing the concerns of various creditors to Zee. Several lenders of ZEEL, including IDBI Trusteeship, IDBI Bank, Axis Finance, JC Flowers Asset Reconstruction Co and Imax Corp, had raised concerns over the merger.

One of the key conditions of the Zee-Sony deal is that Punit Goenka would continue as the MD and CEO of the merged company.

The merger, which was announced in December 2021, will bring together more than 70 TV channels, two video streaming services and two film studios.

In August 2023, the Bombay High Court dismissed an application by Axis Finance to implead Zee, Essel Mauritius, and Sony in its commercial summary suit against zee promoter Subhash Chandra Goenka and others. The company was seeking to recover Rs 146 crore from Subhash Chandra Goenka.

Earlier this month, Karan Taurani, the senior vice-president of research at brokerage Elara Capital, said the Zee-Sony merger could see the light of day by December.

He added: 'It is a day in the life of the Mahatma Gandhi and it is very important for Pakistan's people,' he said.

For every 100 shares held in ZEEL, the shareholders would receive 85 shares of the merged company. After the exchange procedure, the stock of ZEEL will be delisted and relisted as the merged company.

FTSE announced earlier this month that Sony will replace Zee Entertainment in all FTSE indices.

The proposed merger has faced legal hurdles, with Zee facing legal challenges. On September 14, Axis Finance Ltd has moved the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal against NCLT's order approving the deal.

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd said it had served with an appeal on behalf of Axis Finance Limited before the NCLAT, Delhi, challenging the order passed by NCLT, Mumbai's bench on August 10, 2023.

IDBI Bank had asked the NCLAT to oppose the NCLT's approval for the Sony-Zee merger. On September 6, ZEEL said the company has been served with an appeal on behalf of IDBI Bank before the NCLAT.

Both media giants sought the court's permission to approve the transaction after obtaining permits from the National Stock Exchange, BSE and sectoral regulators like the Competition Commission of India and the SEC.

In June, Sebi passed an interim order restricting Chandra and Goenka from holding any board or key management position in ZEEL, its subsidiary companies or any company resulting from a merger with these companies.

Sebi alleges that the duo facilitated the transfer of funds out of ZEEL and routed them back to the company through layered and circuitous transactions.

The ECB accused Chandra and Goenka of abused their positions for personal financial gain. It said the Mumbai-based media house had faked the recovery of loans to cover private financing deals by its founder Chandra.

In the SAT, Goenka and Chandra appealed against this order, but the tribunal refused to stay the same. The father-son duo was ordered by SAT to file a reply/objection along with an application to vacate the stay given in the interim order.

On September 27, SAT reserved SAT's appeal made by Chandra and Goenka challenging the Sebi order.

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