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Zee starts settlement talks with creditors to close Sony merger: Reports

The repayments are crucial for the merger, which will create a media firm with the biggest viewership and pricing power in the country of more than 1.4 billion people

Zee

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Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. has started settlement talks with its creditors to repay debts and remove the last hurdle in completing a merger with the Sony Group that would create a $10 billion media giant, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Indian television network has offered IDBI Bank Ltd., one of the creditors that moved insolvency court, to repay a loan of about 1.49 billion rupees ($18.1 million) in tranches, the people said, asking not to be named as the information isn’t public. Zee’s founders are in separate discussions with Axis Bank Ltd. and JC Flowers & Co.’s asset reconstruction unit to settle dues of 400 million rupees each made to entities controlled by them, they said.

The repayments are crucial for the merger, which will create a media firm with the biggest viewership and pricing power in the country of more than 1.4 billion people. Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt. will own a little more than half the shares once the deal is completed and Zee’s founders will hold 3.99% while public shareholders will get the rest. 

Several creditors to the company and its founders had been approaching the bankruptcy court seeking repayments. Just last month, the company repaid dues of one creditor IndusInd Bank Ltd., and the lender will withdraw its objections against the merger, Zee said in a filing.

Spokesperson for Axis Bank bank declined to comment, while representatives for Zee, JC Flowers and IDBI Bank didn’t respond to emails and phone calls seeking comments.

Atlanta-based Invesco Developing Markets Fund, which owned the largest chunk in Zee with an 18% shareholding at the time of the merger announcement, exited its entire holdings in the company as of last week, exchange filings show. India’s antitrust regulator approved the sixteen-month-old merger agreement in October.

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First Published: Apr 20 2023 | 11:40 AM IST

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