CEO Punit Goenka bats for Zee 4.0 vision, as boardroom tussle rages on

Goenka addressed the shareholders at the 39th AGM of ZEEL on Tuesday

New Delhi: Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) is gearing up for a boardroom tussle with two of its big investors demanding the removal of its top management. Amid all this, CEO Punit Goenka took the stage at the company 39th Annual General Meeting (AGM) to address the shareholders and highlight the efforts taken by the management over the past year to transform the organisation into the Zee 4.0 version.

“The last financial year has been a dynamic one for us, a year where we started afresh, starting a brand new chapter in our book,” said Goenka at the 39th AGM held on Tuesday.

The meeting comes after two of the company’s top investors - Invesco Developing Markets Fund and OFI Global China Fund LLC - who together hold up to 18 percent of the stake demanded the removal of Punit Goenka, Manish Chokhani, and Ashok Kurien as directors in an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM). Both Chokhani and Kurein submitted their resignations as non-executive non-independent directors of the firm ahead of the meeting.

Discussing the year gone by, Goenka said the financial year 2021 was an unprecedented year on all counts. “There was a massive disruption in the first half, and ZEEL’s advertising revenues reduced by almost half," he added as reported by “There was a sharp rebound in the later part of the year, leading to a 6.8 percent growth in the second half. The subscription revenue saw comparable growth of 5.2 per cent during the year, primarily driven by sci fi.”

Elaborating on the plans to transform the organisation, Goenka told the shareholders that the Zee team is working on revamping the programming line-ups of the linear channel portfolio to bounce back in the key markets, and expand the broadcast portfolio with the launch of two new channels during the year. 

“The future roadmap for next three years is going to be driven through digital. The digital business has great promise for the future. It is growing multi-fold,” said Goenka talking about the renewed focus on the digital, with Zee5 scaling its content library and enhancing the customer experience.

“We are still in investment mode for our digital business and our film business. We enjoyed leadership in several of the markets that we operate in.”

However, in terms of verticals, he said, the linear business enjoys the maximum of popularity and profitability. "We also want to be the leading studio in films across six languages, and we will continue to increase our market share in the music category also,” he added.

Responding to the shareholders' concerns over the impact of the pandemic, ZEEL MD and CEO said Zee Studios bore the maximum brunt, due to the closure of malls and theaters across the country, and continues to face challenges. Zee Anmol also lost market share due to the lockdown restrictions. “The exceptional expenditure incurred in Q1 of FY22 was on account of relocation of shoots to alternate locations,” he added, noting that this will not be significantly higher in the coming quarters.

On repayment of funds from related parties, Goenka said that there have been no loans given to related parties from the company. "There have been business revenues that we collect from related parties like Siti Cable and Dish TV and other parties and the board monitors these recoveries very closely and the management is engaged with related parties for recovery of our overdues, if any."

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