Zee Entertainment confirms talks for stake sale, no buyer identified

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, the country’s largest listed media company, confirmed that its promoter is in talks to sell a part of its stake in the company, but also said that the talks are still ongoing.

“Promoters have been in discussions/negotiations with various prospective investors,” the broadcasting company said.

“The Company is not in a position to provide any comment or clarification until such time any potential investor is identified and such arrangement is disclosed by the Promoters to the Board of Directors of the Company,” it said.

The company was responding to media reports saying that the promoters are looking to sell about 25% of the company to a strategic partner.

Zee Entertainment pointed out that its promoter, the Essel Group, had in November last year issued a press release saying that it was interested in selling up to half of its stake in the company.

As of now, Zee — which is chaired by Subash Chandra — said it had no other information on the matter.

The company’s promoters have been pressed for cash due to reverses suffered in their non-media business, particularly in infrastructure and construction.

Shares of Zee Entertainment have fallen by more than 30% in recent days due to speculation that the promoter is about to sell a substantial stake in the company.

Several Indian and foreign media companies have been speculated to be interested in buying the stake.

Zee is, without doubt, the most successful Indian company in broadcasting and has seen its profit and revenue grow much faster than that of the overall industry in recent years.

Subash Chandra is considered one of India’s most successful entrepreneur. He was born in Adampur in Hisar district in Haryana.

In 1965, he dropped out of 10th grade to join the family’s rice trading business. His family had a debt of 3.5 lakh rupees. He dropped out of the school to pay the debt on his family.

In the 1980s he started manufacturing flexible packaging for goods such as toothpaste under the name Essel Packaging. He followed up with a leisure park EsselWorld in north Mumbai. In 1992, he launched Zee TV, just as satellite broadcasting was taking off in the country.

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