The Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and National Stock Exchange (NSE) on Thursday authorised the proposed merger of ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEEL) with Culver Max Entertainment Private Limited (formerly Sony Pictures Networks India Private Limited).

The merged company is projected to have 75 TV channels and two streaming video services, ZEE5 and Sony LIV, making it the second-largest entertainment network by revenue in India. Additionally, it will contain a digital content company, Zee Studios, and Sony Pictures Films India (Studio NXT).The company noted that the stock exchanges’ approval “marks a firm and positive step” in the entire merger approval process.

“The approvals permit the Company to proceed with the next steps in the overall merger process. The Composite Scheme of Arrangement remains subject to applicable regulatory and other approvals,” the company said in a statement.The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and other regulatory licences will be pursued by the two corporations, who had already applied for clearance from the Competition Commission of India (CCI).

After an exclusive negotiation period during which both parties engaged in mutual due diligence, Sony and ZEEL inked definitive agreements for the merger of ZEEL into Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) in December of last year.Invesco and OFI Global China Fund LLC, the top shareholders in ZEEL, had opposed the purchase at the time. Post merger, SPE will hold 50.86 percent of the combined business, while Essel (Zee’s current holding firm) would hold 3.99 percent. Existing ZEE stockholders will own 45.15 percent of the combined company’s shares.

According to the agreement, Sony Pictures will invest $1.575 billion in the newly combined business.Punit Goenka, the chief executive of ZEEL, will serve as the combined company’s Managing Director and CEO.


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