Did Political Ambitions Cause Debt-Ridden ZEE Merger With Sony?
Only last month ZEE TV was in the news for being one of the largest debt-ridden companies in the country, a whopping Rs 71000 crore, just shy of $10b mark. On Wednesday its share zoomed 31% and it was the top story of the pink papers and business news channels. India’s first private TV channel launched in 1992 by a Haryana based commodities trader, Subhash Chandra, was the showcase story of how market liberalization in India had spawned a culture of entrepreneurship and market success. ZEE reaches 1.3 billion people across 173 countries in the world with a bouquet of 49 channels with a market share of 18% in a very competitive entertainment TV market.
In August 2021 Mr Chandra announced that he had paid off 91% of his debts by diluting promoters’ share and was confident to pay the rest very soon. At this very time, it was reported that the rest of the unpaid debt amounted to Rs 7000 crore confirming the total amount of his debt for the first time. This was clearly in preparation for the merger with Sony Pictures Network India, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of Japan.