Mumbai: The founder of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. alleged that dissenting investors Invesco Developing Markets Fund and OFI Global China Fund LLC are trying to take over the firm he set up two decades ago, adding another twist in the public fight for board control of India’s largest listed TV network.
“Invesco is trying to takeover Zee in a clandestine manner,” Chairman Emeritus Subhash Chandra said Wednesday in a primetime interview to Zee News, a television channel owned by his company. “If Invesco wants to acquire shares, they should opt for the open-offer route.”
The saga began last month when Invesco and OFI — which together hold 17.9% in Zee Entertainment — sought a shareholders’ meeting to oust directors including Chief Executive Officer Punit Goenka, who is Chandra’s son, and replace them with six others. A few days later, Zee announced merger talks with Sony in a deal aimed at keeping Goenka at the helm of the combined company. Both parties have since dragged the other to court.
India’s capital markets regulator and Ministry of Corporate Affairs must investigate the intentions of Invesco and OFI, Chandra said.
In another TV interview broadcast Wednesday, Chandra said Invesco isn’t revealing what it intends to do with Zee and asked if the fund is working on another company’s behest. Acquisition of Zee would give the buyer access to one of India’s biggest video content libraries in a country with a massive consumption market.
“Invesco should come out transparently and openly, and let the shareholders decide if they want to take the deal of Invesco or they want to go with Sony’s deal,” Chandra said.
An email sent to Invesco wasn’t immediately answered outside of business hours in India. –Bloomberg