In a final attempt to salvage the terminated merger deal with Sony Group, shareholders of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) have lodged a fresh petition with the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). The filing was made before the Mumbai bench of NCLT, prompting the tribunal to instruct Culver Max (formerly Sony Pictures Network India) to respond within three weeks. The scheduled hearing for this case is set for March 12.
This move comes just one week after Sony Group formally terminated the $10 billion mega-merger with ZEEL on January 21, demanding USD 90 million for breach of conditions and initiating arbitration proceedings against ZEEL.
The recent NCLT notice stems from a petition submitted by Mad Men Film Ventures, a shareholder in ZEEL. Previously, Mad Men Film Ventures had submitted an application urging both ZEEL and Sony to execute the merger deal, which had received NCLT approval in August 2023.
Sony justified its termination by alleging that ZEEL had violated specific financial terms of the merger and failed to propose a plan to address the issues. In response, ZEEL refuted these claims, accusing Sony of acting in “bad faith” and contesting the termination in a letter, as reported by Reuters. The envisioned Zee-Sony merger aimed to create a media powerhouse with over 90 channels spanning sports, entertainment, and news in India, the world’s most populous nation.
Before Sony Group officially terminated the merger, speculations circulated regarding differences between the two entities over the appointment of top leadership in the merged ZEEL-Sony entity. Shyam Kapadia, counsel to the ZEEL shareholder, highlighted reported disputes over leadership roles post-merger. Darius Khambata, representing Sony, sought to dismiss Mad Men Film Ventures’ plea, asserting that it was not maintainable and claiming the shareholder acted as a proxy for ZEE.