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Zee, Sony brands to continue; Merger to focus on expanding viewership, says Punit Goenka

The merger between Sony Pictures Networks Pvt. and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. will focus on expanding viewership by leveraging the combined reach of both the networks, Punit Goenka said.

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“Primary objective would be growing overall business,” the chief executive officer and managing director of Zee Entertainment said on a call with analysts on Tuesday. “Whether the focus would be digital or sports genre will be decided by the new board of the merged company.”

Goenka said with Sony and Zee having varied offerings, a decision on shutting down some channels would be made by the new board. “There’s an opportunity to invest in digital and sports side,” he said, adding the overlaps are largely in the Hindi-speaking market and in the movie segment.

Zee Network exited the sports business five years ago, when it sold Ten Sports network to Sony. After the merger, Ten Sports will be back in the new, combined entity.

As part of the merger, Sony Corp. will bring in $1.5 billion, which will give the Japanese entertainment behemoth a majority in the merged entity with its stake going past 50% after the amalgamation.

“We’ll maintain the return on capital we will have and invest accordingly,” Goenka said, without elaborating on plans to deploy the funds at this stage.

Both Zee and Sony brands will continue, Goenka said in response to an analyst question. If needed merged company will develop a third or more brands, he added. Bloomberg Quint

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