Indian media and entertainment giant Sony Pictures Networks (SPN) has abandoned well-advanced plans to merge with Zee Entertainment Enterprises.
The merger, first unveiled in late 2021 and worth $10 billion, would have combined over 75 linear TV channels as well as their respective streaming platforms.
Reports suggest that Sony feels merger conditions were not met, while Zee, in response, has said it could take legal action against SPN.
Zee said that “all efforts and steps were taken by ZEEL [Zee] in line with the Merger Cooperation Agreement, approved by its shareholders and all regulatory authorities,” and that it is now "evaluating all the available options.”
The network added that it would be taking “all the necessary steps to protect the long-term interests of all its stakeholders, including by taking appropriate legal action.”
SPN, according to Zee, is seeking compensation of around $90 million over the deal’s termination.
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SPN, meanwhile, said that the deal’s closing date – January 20 – was not met “as, among other things, the closing conditions to the merger were not satisfied by then.”
The deal’s original announcement said that Zee’s chief executive, Punit Goenka, would lead the merged company.
However, SPN has reportedly been unhappy about the choice of Goenka, who has been the subject of a recent investigation by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). He has also been barred from from assuming directorial or significant managerial positions in publicly-listed companies, due to alleged fund diversion.
On this front, Zee said that Goenka had been "agreeable to step down in the interest of the merger and proposals in this regard were discussed.”
SPN currently holds rights to an array of major sports properties, most prominently in cricket, soccer, and tennis.
Plans for the merger had been initially announced in September 2021, with a deal between the two parties agreed in late December of that year – before a lengthy regulatory approval hold-up.