Mumbai, September 22: In a major development, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) has announced a merger with Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) on Wednesday. According to the merger, Sony will hold a majority of the stake of 52.93% and will invest $1.575 billion while ZEE shareholders will hold the remaining 47.07% stake.
The merger was approved by the ZEEL's Board of Directors in a meeting held on September 22, according to a statement by ZEE. The company also said that Puneet Goenka (CEO of Zee) will remain the Managing Director and CEO of the merged entity for five years.
The statement said that both the companies have entered into a non-binding agreement and combine their linear networks, digital assets, production operations, and program libraries. The merged entity will still be a listed company in India and Sony Group will have the right to nominate majority directors on the board of the merged entity.
This combined entity will own 75 TV channels, two video streaming services ZEE5 & SonyLIV along with two film studios, Zee Studios & Sony Pictures India as well as a digital content studio Studio NXT. This makes it the largest entertainment network in India.
The merger announcement comes a week after Zee Entertainment witnessed shareholder activism that saw an open call for the ouster of promoters and the incumbent management led by Punit Goenka. It is said that ZEE has been under pressure from top investors for a management reshuffle, including the exit of CEO Punit Goenka from the board.