Television

Zeel-Invesco tussle: We have never resorted to any hostile transactions, says Reliance

The company released a statement on Wednesday.

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Mumbai: Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has released a statement after being embroiled in the Zeel-Invesco dispute on Wednesday. The company said that it has never resorted to “hostile transactions” and noted that reports in the media are not accurate.

Reliance Industries became entangled in the tussle between Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel), and their investor Invesco Developing Markets Fund, after the latter revealed that Reliance was the “Strategic Group” that was looking to merge its media business with Zeel earlier this year in February-March.  

As per the proposal, 40 per cent of the merged entity would belong to existing shareholders while 60 per cent would be controlled by RIL. Furthermore, the promoter family would retain its existing 3.99 per cent stake in the merged entity.

According to the statement, Invesco assisted Reliance in arranging discussions directly between their representatives and Punit Goenka who is a member of the founding family and managing director of Zeel.

Reliance had made a broad proposal for the merger of their media properties with Zeel. “The valuations of Zee and our media properties were arrived at based on the same parameters. The proposal sought to harness the strengths of all the merging entities and would have helped to create substantial value for all, including shareholders of Zee," the company said.

Reliance confirmed that the proposal included the continuation of managing director Punit Goenka and the issue of ESOPs to management including Goenka. “Reliance always endeavours to continue with the existing management of the investee companies and reward them for their performance,” it said.

The fallout of the deal was attributed to differences between Goenka and Invesco with respect to a requirement of the founding family for increasing their stake by subscribing to preferential warrants. Invesco held the view that the founders could always increase their stake through market purchases.

The Zeel-Invesco tussle began when the media company’s two top investors Invesco Developing Markets Fund and OFI Global China Fund LLC who combined own 18 per cent stake in the company had sent a requisition notice to the company on 11 September to call an EGM even after two weeks, the investors moved to NCLT, citing provisions of Company Law, according to which the company is bound to call for an EGM within a specific number of days if stakeholder demanding it owns more than 10 per cent of the company.

The investors had also sought the removal of long-standing directors and close associates of the Chandra family from the board. The two independent directors Ashok Kurien and Manish Chokhani have already submitted their resignations. 

The investors moved to have six nominees appointed to the board of Zeel, which included Surendra Singh Sirohi, Naina Krishna Murthy, Rohan Dhamija, Aruna Sharma, Srinivasa Rao Addepali, and Gaurav Mehta as independent directors of the board for a term up to five consecutive years. The notice was received by Zeel on 12 September, and it informed the stock exchanges on 13 September, adding that the appointments are subject to approval by the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B).

Zeel refused to conduct the EGM citing 'shareholders interest,' and moved to Bombay high court on 2 October seeking to declare the requisition notice as "illegal and invalid."

On 22 September, Zeel and Sony Pictures Networks India announced that they have signed a non-binding term sheet to merge the media assets of both companies. However, Invesco has raised concerns regarding aspects of the deal that allow the promoter family to increase their stake from 3.99 per cent to 20 per cent and has demanded that additional details of the proposed merger be furnished.

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