Subhash Chandra is a veteran of many battles. But the one with Invesco has been arguably the toughest. With just a 4% shareholding held by Zee Entertainment Enterprises, the company Chandra founded in the early 1990s, he is now up against Atlanta-based Invesco. In a chat with BT TV, the man, who is known for his bluntness, said Invesco was backed by someone. “Invesco is one of our oldest shareholders and I am unable to understand what they want,” was his view.
For almost a month now, Invesco, with an 18% stake, and Zee have been at it for control of the entertainment major. If Invesco wanted to oust Puneet Goenka -- Zee’s MD & CEO and also Chandra’s son -- Zee stunned everyone by announcing a proposed merger with Sony. “Invesco is not supporting the merger. They only want to takeover Zee without complying with the takeover regulation by calling for an EGM,” said Chandra. He was clear that Invesco could do what they wanted to but “it has to be within the laws and must seek shareholder voting.”
Meanwhile, the proposed Zee-Sony merger can create an entertainment behemoth with a presence across genres. “I don’t know what Invesco is looking for. It is up to the shareholders of Zee Entertainment Enterprises to decide if they want to back the deal with Sony or go with the Invesco deal,” he said.
As Chairman Emeritus, Chandra said he was neither a director nor involved in the running on a day-to-day basis. “Zee is like a beautiful girl created by an act of God. I am not the creator,” was how he put it. To his mind, even with an investment of Rs 10 lakh crore won’t be enough to create another Zee.
While expressing surprise that there was no intervention by either the markets regulator, SEBI or the Ministry of Company Affairs, he said the most important thing was the happiness of Zee’s shareholders. “Invesco wants to appoint six independent directors to Zee’s board but none of them has any experience of the media business. While they are respectable people, their experience of the business is less than a fifth of the current board,” maintained Chandra.
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