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Invesco says it is fighting to give minority Zee shareholders a voice

Breaking its silence on the dispute with Zee group promoters, US-based investment management company Invesco said it is fighting to give minority shareholders of Zee a voice in choosing the governing board and the future road map.

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“We deeply admire and respect the shareholder safeguards embedded in India’s corporate legal framework. Our latest petition before the NCLT is intended to ensure that these safeguards are upheld so as to give shareholders of Zee a voice in choosing the governing board that will take Zee into a brighter future,” an Invesco spokesperson told BusinessLine.

“The company’s (Zee) failure to take steps within its notice period to call an EGM, coupled with the delay in noticing our EGM on September 11 and failure to notice our September 23 letter to the Exchanges, has prompted us to file a petition before the NCLT to enforce our rights as shareholders to call for this EGM of the company,” the spokesperson added.

Demand to oust Goenka
Invesco, in its September 11 letter, requested an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to remove Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Punit Goenka from ZEE’s board. Invesco sought the removal of two other directors as well and has proposed to bring in six new directors to the board during the proposed EGM.

Invesco’s war against promoter Goenka is yet another instance of minority shareholder activism that the Essel Group has faced recently in many of their holdings. This includes Dish TV and Zee Learn.

While many experts believe that Invesco should have backed off after Goenka announced a merger deal between Zee and Sony Pictures, the American investment company sent a fresh letter on September 23 insisting on the EGM.

Erratic decision making
According to Invesco, Zee’s disclosure of the September 22 announcement of the merger is symptomatic of the erratic manner in which important serious decisions have been handled in the company.

“We have a long history of making long-term investments in many world-class companies that have emerged in India. Our tenure as shareholders in Zee reflects this commitment and we continue to believe that the business (Zee) is valuable, whether on its own or in alignment with a strategic partner. The deep bench of talent within Zee and in the Indian media industry has helped shape our view that any such transitions if required, can be properly managed. As shareholders, we will continue our efforts to establish a fully staffed, independent and strengthened board at Zee,” said Invesco. The Hindu BusinessLine

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