February 29, 2024

The proposed merger between Indian powerhouse Zee Entertainment Enterprises and Sony‘s Indian TV businesses, which has been nearly two years in the making, is likely to be delayed further.

The merger agreement was signed in December 2021 and the cut-off date for completion was Dec. 21, 2023. However, Zee has now asked for an extension to the merger.

“Pursuant to Regulation 30 of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2015 (‘LODR Regulations’), we hereby inform you that pursuant to the Merger Cooperation Agreement dated December 22, 2021 entered into amongst the Company [Zee], BEPL [Bangla Entertainment Private Limited] and CMEPL [Culver Max Entertainment Private Limited, formerly known as Sony Pictures Networks India Private Limited] the Company has requested CMEPL and BEPL to extend the Date required to make the Scheme effective, as per the terms of the Merger Cooperation Agreement,” Zee said in a filing to India’s Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange on Sunday.

The companies cleared a key regulatory hurdle in August, but there are other matters pending, especially that of leadership. The original plan had foreseen that Zee’s CEO Punit Goenka would be its captain, while Sony would own a 51% controlling stake. However, Goenka was banned from managing any listed company in India following an interim regulatory report that accused him and Zee founder Subhash Chandra of running the company for their own benefit and “siphoning off” money.

The ban was lifted in October after an appeal.

The merger faced another roadblock when Axis Finance and IDBI bank had challenged it with India’s National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), claiming unpaid loans. However, NCLAT refused to pause the merger earlier this week and instead called for a hearing in January 2024.

The combined companies have the potential to create a giant in broadcast TV — a sector that is still paramount in India — and could be valued at $10 billion.

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