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‘Baseless’: Zee Ent board condemns allegations against ex-directors Ashok Kurien, Manish Chokhani

‘Baseless’: Zee Ent board condemns allegations against ex-directors Ashok Kurien, Manish Chokhani

Zee Entertainment says these two directors decided to step down from the board due to “personal reasons” and to pursue their interests beyond the “confines of a boardroom”

Punit Goenka, Zee Ent MD & CEO. The ZEE board says Kurien and Chokhani’s guidance to the leadership team has been “valuable”, which helped it undertake several initiatives to bring in more transparency Punit Goenka, Zee Ent MD & CEO. The ZEE board says Kurien and Chokhani’s guidance to the leadership team has been “valuable”, which helped it undertake several initiatives to bring in more transparency

ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd’s board of directors has strongly condemned the allegations levelled by “certain proxy advisory firms” against its former non-executive directors, Ashok Kurien and Manish Chokhani.

In a statement to the stock exchanges, Zee Entertainment said these two directors decided to step down from the board due to “personal reasons” and to pursue their interests beyond the “confines of a boardroom”.

These two had stepped down on September 13, a day after two institutional investors holding around 17.88 per cent stake in the company sought their removal.

Also read: Two Zee Ent institutional investors seek removal of Punit Goenka as director

“Under the mentorship of Chokhani and Kurien, along with all the members of the  board, the interest of the shareholders has always been paramount for the company, and it is committed to maintain the highest standards of governance and  transparency,” the Zee Ent statement said.

The company said speculations disparaging their contribution are “baseless”. It said decisions taken by committee members and the board are being wrongly attributed to “individual directors” without any basis.   

ZEE said Kurien and Chokhani’s guidance to the leadership team has been “valuable”, which helped it undertake several initiatives to bring in more transparency.

R Gopalan, Chairman, ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, said: “As  someone who sowed the seeds of ZEE, Ashok Kurien played a key role in steering the company to newer heights. Manish Chokhani’s astute management skills coupled with his analytical abilities have been of tremendous value to the board.”

The two investment firms are -- Invesco Developing Markets Fund (formerly Invesco Oppenheimer Developing Markets Fund) and OFI Global China Fund LLC, the largest shareholder of ZEEL -- had sought the removal of both Chokhani and Kurien this week.

They had also called an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders seeking to remove Punit Goenka from the post of director. Goenka is also the company's Managing Director & CEO.

These two investors had sought the appointment of six of its nominees on the board of the company - Surendra Singh Sirohi, Naina Krishna Murthy, Rohan Dhamija, Aruna Sharma, Srinivasa Rao Addepalli, and Gaurav Mehta.

In an emailed response to queries from Business Today on September 14, Invesco spokesperson Jeaneen Terrio had said: "We have been investors in Zee for over a decade. We have initiated this action to strengthen board governance at the company." A Zee spokesperson had said, "The company will take necessary action as per applicable law.”

Also read: Boardroom potboiler at Zee: Can beleaguered MD Punit Goenka stave off shareholders demanding his exit?

 

Published on: Sep 16, 2021, 8:02 PM IST
Posted by: Manoj Sharma, Sep 16, 2021, 7:56 PM IST