Essel group promoters plan to sell non-media assets to repay debt

Essel Group's logo (Source: Wikipedia)
Essel group promoters have decided to concentrate on selling their non-media assets rather than looking for further dilution of their shareholding in Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) through a stake Their current shareholding in ZEEL is 24 per cent.

The move comes with the promoters getting the much-needed extension of up to six months to pay their dues from most of the mutual funds. The deadline to return the money ended in September. 

The promoters, however, have already paid about half their dues out of the money generated from the sale of promoters equity in ZEEL to private equity fund Oppeheimer. 

However, some mutual funds sold pledged shares of the promoters in ZEEL, on the basis of which they got the loan this week to get back their payments, leading to concerns that others may follow suit.    

Earlier, the promoters were looking at a twin strategy which included further sale of their shares in ZEEL to another private equity fund or financial investor and also sale of its non-media assets. However, this would have led to further dilution of its holdings from 24 per cent. 

Last year, the promoters were ready to bring their shareholding to just above 20 per cent after deciding to sell half their stake in ZEEL which at that time was at 41.62 per cent. The promoters, apart from the wellness centre known as Yo 1 in the US, have put in the block six road projects (they are talking to NIIF), 480 Mw of solar projects and Essel Finance assets, among others.

According to sources, the promoters are expecting to get around Rs 6,000 crore through sale of these assets. This is enough to pay back the promoters debt of Rs 5,400 crore to mutual funds. The total amount of promoter debt, which was at Rs 11,000 crore, reduced to Rs 6,776 crore after the promoters sold 11 per cent stake in ZEEL to Oppenheimer. 

It went down to Rs 5,400 crore after the promoters also struck a deal with the Adanis to sell solar assets of 250 Mw in Essel Green Energy and Essel Infraprojects for Rs 1,300 crore. With another 11 per cent stake, Oppenheimer has increased its equity holding in the company to 18 per cent.

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