Invesco Reveals Merger Talks Between Zee Entertainment And Reliance Industries Entities
It's now clear that earlier in the year a proposal was being discussed to merge Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. with media entities of Reliance Industries Ltd.
Punit Goenka, in a letter to the Zee Entertainment board, released on Oct. 12, alluded to such a proposal brought to him by representatives of Invesco Developing Markets Fund. While he didn't mention Reliance Industries specifically, he said he didn't take the proposal to the board as it overvalued the Reliance entities and did not have full valuation details or information on commercial terms.
The Zee Entertainment board considered this undated letter by Goenka and said in a filing to the stock exchanges: "Invesco's actions over the past few weeks have been motivated by circumstances that are extraneous to the company's business or performance, or issues of corporate governance or public interest."
Goenka is the son of Zee Entertainment founder Subhash Chandra and managing director and chief executive. His letter to the board accompanied the filing.
In response to his letter, Invesco has issued a statement saying it rejects the assertions made by Zee Entertainment in its release on Oct. 12.
"We wish to make clear that the potential transaction proposed by Reliance (the “Strategic Group” referenced but not disclosed in the Oct. 12, 2021 communication by Zee) was negotiated by and between Reliance and Mr. Goenka and others associated with Zee’s promoter family. The role of Invesco, as Zee’s single largest shareholder, was to help facilitate that potential transaction and nothing more."
Invesco claims it has made efforts over two years to "bring Zee back to good health" and that strategic alignments were part of that.
What started out as a shareholder dispute now seems more like a takeover battle.
Invesco, along with affiliate OFI Global China Fund, owns 17.88% of Zee Entertainment. It is currently locked in a legal dispute with the company and its board over its attempts to oust Goenka and appoint six new independent directors to Zee Entertainment's board. The two foreign funds have sought a extraordinary general meeting of shareholders to put these resolutions to vote. The company's board has rejected the EGM requisition. The matter is in court.