Zee Entertainment Enterprises has reached out to Culver Max Entertainment, a Sony Group Corp subsidiary, to extend their negotiation period for the high-profile merger. However, Sony's India branch has not yet responded, with the deadline looming on January 20.
What Happened? This development marks a potential collapse of the two-year-old, multi-billion-dollar merger agreement between Zee and Sony, originally set to conclude on December 21, 2023. As the deadline approached, Zee declared its intention to continue negotiations, confirming their commitment to the merger in a statement to the stock exchanges. However, the lack of response from Sony casts doubt on the merger’s future.
Legal intricacies add complexity to the situation. For a formal termination of the merger, both parties must notify regulatory bodies, including the National Company Law Tribunal, the Competition Commission of India, and stock exchanges. Given Zee’s status as a publicly traded company, they must also seek board approval to abandon the merger plans.
The crux of the fallout? At the heart of the dispute lies the controversy surrounding Punit Goenka, Zee’s MD and CEO. Despite a clearance from the Securities Appellate Tribunal, Goenka remains under investigation by the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for alleged fund diversions. This scrutiny has led Sony to oppose his continuing leadership in the merged entity.
The tense negotiations reflect a power struggle, with Goenka insisting on maintaining his role in the merged company as originally planned, countering Sony’s attempts to alter terms. This deadlock, with less than a day remaining before the deadline, suggests a bleak outlook for the merger’s completion.
Price Action: Zee’s share price was up 1.06% to trade at ₹238 as the markets opened on Saturday.
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