Sony Pictures Networks India Private Limited (SPNI) and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) announced on Wednesday that they have signed definitive agreements to merge ZEEL with and into SPNI and bring together their linear networks, digital assets, production operations and programming libraries. The agreements follow the conclusion of an exclusive negotiation phase in which ZEEL and SPNI carried out a mutual due diligence. Upon closing, the new combined company will be listed in India. Completion of the Transaction is subject to certain customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, shareholder and third party approvals.
Under the terms of the final agreements, upon closing of $ 1.5 billion in cash, SPNI will strengthen its presence in the rapidly evolving digital ecosystem, apply for media rights in the fast-growing sports landscape, and pursue other growth opportunities.
Punit Goenka will lead the combined company as Managing Director & CEO. The majority of the combined company’s board of directors will be nominated by the Sony Group and will include the current Managing Director and CEO of SPNI, NP Singh. Upon completion, Singh will assume a broader leadership role at SPE as Chairman, Sony Pictures India (a division of SPE) reporting to Ravi Ahuja, Chairman of SPE Global Television Studios and SPE Corporate Development.
While SPNI will hold 50.86 percent of the shares in the merged company, the founders of Zee will own 3.99 percent according to a listing on the stock exchange by Zee. The remaining 45.15 percent will be held by public shareholders as part of the final agreement.
The merger of ZEEL and SPNI is intended to generate business synergies. Given their relative strengths in scripting, non-fiction, and sports programming, their respective sales presence across India, and iconic entertainment brands, the combined company should be well positioned to meet growing consumer demand for premium content across entertainment touchpoints and platforms.
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