Indian regulators have approved, after much delay, the proposed merger between Sony’s TV operations in India and the country’s Zee Entertainment Enterprises.
It would bring together linear TV networks, digital businesses, production operations and content libraries to create an Indian sector powerhouse.
The merger, first unveiled in 2021, faced antitrust and other concerns. Last year, the two companies offered concessions on such issues as price discounts to ease regulatory worries before receiving antitrust approval for the deal. The company also ran into a hurdle when the Securities and Exchange Board of India banned Zee bosses Subhash Chandra and Punit Goenka from the boardrooms of publicly traded companies for a year.
Now, however, the deal seems ready to close. On Thursday, the Mumbai branch of the National Company Law Tribunal gave its green light, clearing the way for the combination.
In the deal, as unveiled in late 2021, Sony Pictures Network India (SPNI) and Zee Entertainment agreed to form India’s second-largest entertainment network by revenue and create via the merger a regional content giant covering film, TV and streaming. Covered were 75 linear TV channels, two streaming services (SonyLIV and Zee5), two major film studios, a digital content studio (Studio NXT) and a combined program library with several thousand films and series.
The combined giant would retain Zee’s stock market listing in India, while Sony would own a controlling stake of around 51 percent thanks to a cash injection.