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Sony-Zee merger to go through, Punit Goenka

The merger between ZEE Entertainment and the Indian unit of Japan’s Sony will go through, “whether or not” he is the CEO of the merged company, Punit Goenka told the Economic Times in an interview.

The India markets regulator has imposed a one-year ban on Zee Entertainment’s Chairman Subhash Chandra and CEO Goenka for being actively involved in diverting company funds to the group’s related entities, raising questions on the future of the Zee-Sony merger.

Goenka was set to become the merged entity’s managing director and CEO, leading a $10 billion TV enterprise.

“The ZEE-Sony merger holds immense significance, regardless of my position as CEO. The resulting entity will be under Sony’s control, and they have chosen to retain me as a promoter, MD, and CEO,” Goenka told the Economic Times.

The comments come after Sony said on Wednesday it took the Securities and Exchange Board of India’s ban on Chandra and Goenka “seriously” and will monitor developments that may affect the deal, which was announced in 2021.

Zee did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

“However, if the law prevents me from holding those positions, should the merger be allowed to fail? Such an outcome would negatively impact everyone involved in the ecosystem, as well as the sector as a whole,” Goenka told the Economic Times.

Some analysts agreed with Goenka.

“In case Punit (Goenka) does not get relief at the country’s tribunal, the merger goes through without him with a Sony representative as CEO,” analyst Karan Taurani of brokerage Elara Capital said.

Zee shares opened 2.6% higher on Thursday and rose as much as 3% in intraday trade. Reuters

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