On Tuesday (9 January), Zee Entertainment refuted media speculations of cancelling the $10 billion merger with Sony Pictures' India division, as stated in a stock exchange filing according to The Economic Times.
The company, led by Puneet Goenka, dismissed the report as unfounded and factually erroneous. It was earlier reported that Sony might be uncomfortable with Punit Goenka leading the merged entity amid an ongoing regulatory probe.
"The company reaffirms its dedication to the merger with Sony, persistently striving for a successful conclusion of the proposed unification," stated the company refuting reports.
Despite the pact being signed in 2021 and obtaining all necessary regulatory approvals, the merger has faced numerous challenges, preventing its successful completion before the 21 December deadline.
Legal issues, including the leadership dispute between Sony and Zee, have contributed to the complications with Sony advocating for its Indian operations managing director, NP Singh, to be the top executive, while Zee supports Punit Goenka.
It's important to note that in June, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) had accused Goenka and Zee Group chairman Subhash Chandra of diverting company funds.
However, in October, the Securities Appellate Tribunal lifted the ban on Goenka, allowing him to hold board positions in Zee Group companies.
Culver Max Entertainment (formerly Sony Pictures Networks India) and ZEEL initially announced a non-binding term sheet to merge their linear networks, digital assets, production operations, and programme libraries.
The combined entity was poised to own over 70 TV channels, two video streaming services (ZEE5 and Sony LIV), and two film studios (Zee Studios and Sony Pictures Films India), creating the largest entertainment network in India.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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