Under-fire Zee CEO defends company against Invesco assault

Punit Goenka

The CEO of Indian media giant Zee has said that the ongoing spat with shareholder Invesco is to preserve the company’s future.

Investment firm Invesco, which owns 17.88% of Zee, earlier this week published a letter to investors where it called on shareholders to revolt against the media company over its governance and the proposed merger with Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI). 

In addition to providing concerns about the “wholly opaque” nature of the merger which will give the founding family of Zee an option to increase their stake from 4% to 20%, Invesco’s letter called on shareholders to back its demands for a restructured board, including the ousting of CEO Goenka, along with the appointment of six new independent board members.

Goenka however has now made his first public statement on the dispute in which he said: “We will ensure that no one maligns the intrinsic value of this company for their own benefit, and I continue to pursue this in the best interests of all our shareholders.”

In its letter, Invesco said its scepticism of the Sony deal was largely fueled by the fact that it had facilitated talks between India’s Reliance Industries and Zee earlier this year only for the possible merger to be rejected. 

Addressing this, Goenka said that a deal with Reliance would compromise shareholder value and that “My attention was on the imbalance observed in the valuation and how it was not in the best interest of our shareholders.”

Goenka’s father and Zee founder Subhash Chandra last week took to the company’s Hindi news channel Zee News to accuse Invesco of plotting a hostile takeover.

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