Sony’s India unit agrees to absorb Zee Entertainment

Deal entails listing of merged entity, ZEEL’s Goenka as MD

Sony Pictures Networks India Private Ltd. (SPNI) and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEEL) have agreed to merge ZEEL with and into SPNI and combine their linear networks, digital assets, production operations and program libraries.

After closing, the new combined company will be publicly listed in India.

As per the terms of the definitive agreements, SPNI will have cash balance of $1.5 billion at closing, including through infusion by the current shareholders of SPNI and the founders of ZEEL.

SPNI is an indirect subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. (SPE).

Post merger SPE will indirectly hold a majority 50.86% of the combined company, ZEEL’s founders will own 3.99%, and the other ZEEL shareholders will hold a 45.15% stake.

Punit Goenka of ZEEL will lead the combined company as its Managing Director & CEO. The majority of the board of directors of the merged entity will be nominated by the Sony Group and will include the current SPNI MD N.P. Singh.

Mr. Singh will assume a broader executive position at SPE as Chairman, Sony Pictures India reporting to Ravi Ahuja, SPE’s Chairman of Global Television Studios.

ZEEL’s founders have agreed to limit the equity that they may own in the combined company to 20% of its outstanding shares.

“It is a significant milestone for all of us, as two leading media & entertainment companies join hands to drive the next era of entertainment,” said Mr. Goenka.

“The combined company will create a comprehensive entertainment business, enabling us to serve our consumers with wider content choices,” he added.

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