Sony Renews Zee Interest

Sony Renews Zee Interest

Sony Corp is understood to have revived negotiations to buy a part of the promoters stake in Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. The stake sale is expected to be completed by July.

Zee’s talks with Sony had stalled overvaluation, with Sony reportedly keen to pare the promoter’s stake down to 10 percent.

In November last year, Zee’s promoters, led by Subhash Chandra, had said it would sell up to 50 per cent of their stake in the company to a strategic partner.

Zee, which declared its fourth quarter results on Monday, was silent on the current status of the sale. However, at a conference call with analysts, Punit Goenka, managing director & CEO, Zee Entertainment said the negotiations with the parties were proceeding well and a binding agreement should be signed by July.

Speaking to a business news channel on Tuesday, Goenka said he had “two term sheets’’ for the proposed stake sale and that after the transaction, the promoters will be left with some stake in the company. He, however, did not disclose the identity of the two parties.

It is learnt that Sony Corp is leading the race. Earlier reports had indicated Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries was keen on acquiring the stake.

Shares of Zee on Tuesday climbed around six per cent, or Rs 20.95, to end at Rs 382 as investors reacted positively to the media & entertainment firm’s fourth quarter numbers and comments by the senior management on the stake sale process.

For the fourth quarter of 2018-19, Zee reported consolidated revenue of Rs 2,019.3 crore with profit after tax coming at Rs 291.7 crore compared with Rs 231 crore in the same period last year- a growth of 26 per cent.

Advertising revenue rose 16 per cent to Rs 1,217.5 crore in the quarter. Domestic advertising revenue grew almost 18 percent to Rs 1,157.5 crore, while subscription revenue rose 3.4 percent to Rs 565.3 crore.

Subscription and advertising revenues were affected because of the tariff order by Trai relating to the selection of channels. At the conference call, the top management said their medium-term growth outlook remained unchanged. The management said the caution on the part of advertisers was on account of regulatory uncertainty and some modertation of consumer demand — which was only temporary.

Goenka said Zee had been able to maintain its leadership position and also widened the gap with its nearest competitor. Zee has a portfolio of 41 channels across 10 languages. During the period, it converted a couple of its free-to-air channels to pay.―Telegraph India

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