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Zee MD targets sports rights as Sony merger enters “final stages”

Punit Goenka shrugs off Invesco concerns over corporate governance.

25 November 2021 Tom Bassam

Getty Images

  • Merged media company could bring back Ten Sport
  • Goenka says Zee and Sony will form the largest media entertainment player in India

Punit Goenka, managing director of Zee Entertainment, told delegates at Media Partners Asia’s APOS India event that the company’s merger with Sony Pictures Networks India was in its “final stages”.

Goenka said the combined media giant will actively target sports content as part of it post-merger growth strategy.

Goenka has been under pressure to step down as chief executive and managing director from Invesco, which holds a 18 per cent stake in Zee, with the US investment firm seeking to install six independent board members over concerns around corporate governance.

The Indian industry veteran shrugged off the issues during his keynote address, expressing confidence in the impending Zee-Sony merger.

“I certainly believe that consolidation is going to benefit the industry overall. Zee and Sony will form the largest media entertainment player in the country,” he said. “Our revenues on a standalone basis combined will be close to US$2 billion, and the capital growth that Sony is going to infuse in the merged entity will really give us the opportunity to invest in premium content and include sports.

“There is going to be a huge opportunity on both the digital and the linear side to create big-scale entertainment properties and acquire large IPs across genres.”

It seems sport will be a key pillar of the merged media giant. Sony has been reported to be ready to invest US$1.58 billion in the merged business with Zee.

Zee sold off its Ten Sport division to Sony back in 2017, but with more spending power Zee-Sony will seek to challenge Disney’s Star as the leading player in the Indian market.

With the rights auction for Twenty20 cricket’s Indian Premier League (IPL) impending, the merged company is expected to make a serious bid as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) seeks to double its current US$510 million per year rights fee.

“Certainly sports will become an area of focus for the merged entity,” Goenka told delegates.

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