Zee Entertainment promoters may sell up to 25% stake to a strategic partner

The promoters of Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) are considering selling up to a 25 per cent stake to a strategic partner, according to informed sources.

As part of an earlier plan, Chairman Subhash Chandra and his family had announced that they were willing to sell up to 50 per cent of their 41.6 per cent stake in the company.

A top source close to the development said negotiations were on with three prospective foreign strategic investment entities. “The promoters are willing to give a bit more than 20 per cent stake and the maximum would be 25 per cent to a strategic investor,” he said.

Zee declined to comment on the matter.

Asked who would control the business, the source said: “That will be negotiated, but this is a complex business and the promoters have spent 26 years to reach where they are. Also, a strategic partner would like to work together with the local partner. The promoters will be working together with them.”

The source also said it did not find any need to give more than a 20 per cent stake in ZEE5, the over-the-top platform of Zee if it was spun off as a separate company for monetisation. 

Also, that the strategic partners with which talks are on have understood that the fundamentals of Zee have not got impacted despite a bear cartel bringing down stock prices in all Essel Group firms. A few days ago, its share price plunged 37 per cent after news that the promoters had pledged 24.71 per cent of ZEEL shares to lenders — including non-banking financial companies and mutual funds — for their troubled infrastructure business.

There was worry about the lenders opting to invoke shares in the market after the dramatic fall in price. However, after a meeting on Sunday, the group said it had reached an agreement with the lenders on servicing the debt, with a three-month window to do so. They had promised to pay the loans in a time-bound manner after part-sale of some of the infrastructure assets and partly though funds raised from the strategic sale of ZEEL's stake. 

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