Zee asks Sony to extend December 21 merger deadline

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MUMBAI: Nearly two years after announcing a merger plan, Zee Entertainment Enterprises has asked Sony Pictures Networks India (now known as Culver Max Entertainment) to push back a deadline – December 21, 2023 – to make their merger scheme effective, the company helmed by Punit Goenka said on Sunday.
Sony is expected to review the request even as Walt Disney plans to merge its India business with Reliance’s Viacom18.Zee and Sony had inked a merger agreement on December 22, 2021 to combine their linear networks, digital assets, production operations and programme libraries. But the merger, facing several obstacles, hasn’t been consummated yet.
Regulatory investigation, legal suits, among other things, involving Zee and its promoters including Goenka, has been derailing the merger. Zee and Sony can extend the merger deadline thrice. It is not known by how many months Zee has sought the extension of the deadline from Sony. In a regulatory filing on Sunday, Zee said it has requested Sony to extend the merger deadline to “make the scheme effective”.
Zee and Sony have been clashing over who will helm the merged entity. While Sony has the right to nominate the majority of the board members on the merged entity, one of the clauses in the agreement is that Goenka will be the MD and CEO of the new company. However, with Goenka facing an on-going investigation by markets regulator Sebi, Sony is wary of appointing him as the MD and CEO of the merged entity.
The Japanese media giant has been pushing its candidate, N P Singh, to lead the merged company. Sebi is expected to come out with a final order on Zee promoters after it completes an investigation on them in a securities violation case.
On Saturday, Zee said two of its independent directors, Vivek Mehra and Sasha Mirchandani, failed to receive the required votes to secure their re-appointment ahead of the December 21 merger deadline.



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