Sony And Zee engage in brinksmanship over acquisition deal

A news report in India’s Economic Times says that Sony Corp’s bid to buy Subhash Chandra-controlled Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEE) has stalled because of differences over valuation. The hold-up has opened up the possibility that a rival bidder such as US cable giant Comcast or Apple may decide to enter the bidding.

Subhash Chandra

Sony submitted a bid for ZEE in February as part of the company’s ambition to scale up in key Asian markets. Chandra has been forced to consider the offer because of his company’s depressed share price and the need to honour banking covenants. However the Economic Times says there is still a wide gap between two sides.

If Sony is able to get the deal over the line, it would secure control of a company that has 66 television channels across 171 countries, as well as an OTT platform Zee5.

However, it is the fast-growing India market, already pivotal to Sony’s business, that would be the big prize. Analysing the deal prior to the latest breaking news, analyst MPA said Sony “has missed out on some large-scale opportunities in recent years, having lost in bids for IPL and BCCI cricket rights as well as for regional broadcast assets ETV and Maa TV. Zee provides Sony with another and perhaps final opportunity to double down in India, its most important media growth market.”

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