In 2021, the Puneet Goenka-led Zed Entertainment Enterprises announced a merger with Sony’s India unit, Sony Pictures Networks India.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) may delay selling media rights for the Indian cricket team’s bilateral series, which is slated to follow the current Indian Premier League, in light of the Zee-Sony merger. According to The Economic Times, the world’s richest cricket board is closely monitoring the Zee-Sony merger deal before awarding the bidding for the 2019 bilateral series. 

According to the source, BCCI may not want to sell the rights for four years (2023-2027) right now and may opt for a different tenure. 

Sony used to show the lucrative Indian Premier League on their channel till 2017. The rights were afterward purchased by Star India (now Disney Star).  

Star Sports India purchased the BCCI media rights for Rs 6,138.1 crore in 2018, outbidding Sony and Reliance. The rights were acquired for both television and digital channels, and they were valid from 2018 through 2023. 

Currently, Disney Star has broadcast and streaming rights to all ICC tournaments on TV and other digital platforms. It also has the Asia Cup rights until this year. 

Sony Sports Network, on the other side, has the rights to broadcast games from England, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. 

A merger of Zed and Sony 

In 2021, the Puneet Goenka-led Zed Entertainment Enterprises announced a merger with Sony’s India unit, Sony Pictures Networks India. After numerous roadblocks and disagreements with shareholders, the merger was approved by the Competition Commission of India (CCI) in 2022. It has also been approved by the stock exchanges.   

Sony will also pay the promoters of the Essel Group a non-compete fee of Rs 1,100 crore.  Sony will own 50.86 percent of the amalgamated entity under the terms of the agreement. Zee’s promoters will own 3.99 percent of the combined company, while other Zed stockholders will own 45.15 percent. 

Sony Corp. Chairman and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida recently announced that the merger between Sony and Zed is likely to be completed by the first half of the current fiscal year, which ends March 31. 

However, the transaction is beset by a variety of legal complications. Sebi, the market regulator, issued a negative interim judgment earlier this month against a unit of the Essel Group that formed Zed.  

Following this, on May 11, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) directed the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE) to examine and ratify the merger’s non-compete clause, which Sebi had authorized. 

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) said on Thursday that it would hear Zed Entertainment Enterprises Ltd’s appeal against the NCLT’s ruling directing stock exchanges to revisit initial approvals of the Zee-Sony merger on Friday. 

The Mumbai bench of the NCLT dismissed IDBI Bank’s insolvency petition against Zed Entertainment last week. IDBI Bank filed an insolvency resolution petition at the NCLT against Zed in December 2022 for a default of over Rs 149 crore. 

The multilingual TV network reportedly proposed to repay a loan of roughly Rs 149 crore in installments to IDBI Bank. 

In March of this year, the corporation settled the debts of one of its creditors, IndusInd Bank Ltd. Following this, the lender stated that it will withdraw its objections to the merger, according to a filing by Zed. 

According to reports, Zee’s founders have been in separate talks with Axis Bank Ltd and JC Flowers & Co.’s asset reconstruction section to settle Rs 400 million in debt.