Zee Group Chairman Subhash Chandra says key investor wants to take over company

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The founder of India`s Zee made a rare appearance on the media company`s Hindi news channel late on Wednesday, accusing institutional investor Invesco of plotting a hostile takeover.

“I urge Invesco to behave like a shareholder not like the owner… they want to take over this company in defiance of India`s laws,” said Subhash Chandra, who founded Zee TV in the early 1990s.

Chandra currently holds no official position at Zee but his son Puneet Goenka is the CEO and the family owns 3.99% of the company.

And his comments come as Zee prepares for a merger with the India unit of Sony Group in a deal that would keep Goenka as the boss of what would become the country`s largest broadcaster.

Invesco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Invesco Developing Markets Fund and OFI Global China Fund LLC, which together account for 17.88% of Zee`s shares, want the company`s chief executive officer Goenka to go and the board revamped.

The funds have filed a case in India`s companies court to pressure Zee to call an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of shareholders, a demand the company`s board has rejected citing a lack of approvals by capital markets regulator and the federal government.

Invesco and OFI filed the court case after Zee said it was planning the merger with Sony.

On Wednesday, a teary-eyed Chandra made an emotional appeal to Zee`s Indian shareholders and the federal government to save the media company.

“Something has changed in Invesco… either this is a Chinese company which does not fear anyone or I don`t know,” Chandra said.

“I will also urge the Zee board to tell Invesco that we agree to calling an EGM but you tell us what your deal is. We will place before shareholders the Invesco deal and the Sony deal and let them decide.”

Separately, Zee has approached an appellate companies tribunal pushing back against a lower court order that asked it to file replies in the Invesco case by Oct 7, Reuters previously reported.

 

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