Essel now looks to sell majority stakes in Zee Learn

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on October 18, 2019 Published on October 18, 2019

Punit Goenka, CEO, ZEEL

In a bid to reduce promoter debt, Zee Entertainment CEO on Thursday said the promoters may divest controlling stakes in Essel group company Zee Learn.

Zee Learn, a listed entity on the Indian bourses, has a market capitalisation of about ₹550 crore with annual revenues of about ₹550 crore during the last fiscal year.

"We have been approached by some marquee investors, both strategic and financial, for the Zee Learn stake and we are considering their offers seriously," Punit Goenka, CEO at Zee Entertainment, said during an investor call on Thursday.

Zee Learn revenues have been growing at about 50 per cent CAGR in the last few years. It has more than 4 lakh students and 50K teachers/staff in its network. Its brands include Kidzee (Pre K chain), Mount Litera (K12 chain), Mahesh Tutorial (Test Prep & Tutorial chain) and Robomate.

Essel group promoters who currently have 90 per cent of their shares in Zee Entertainment pledged to raise capital, are hoping to earn over ₹3,500 crore from the deal, if it goes through.

Essel promoters currently have a debt of ₹7,000 crore, which they are trying to cut down by selling non-media assets including road and solar projects. BusinessLine reported this week that the promoters are in talks with the National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (NIIF) to sell six road projects for about ₹4,000 crore.

Subhash Chandra-led Essel group is trying to maintain its control over Zee Entertainment, the largest and the most profitable business in the group. Promoters currently are left with only 22 per cent stakes in Zee Entertainment.

The promoter group recently disclosed that it had 10.71 per cent Zee Entertainment shares pledged with Russian investment bank VTB Capital. However, to secure its loans of ₹2,000 crore to the promoters, VTB Capital earlier this week secured rights to sell Essel Media Ventures’s 10.71% stake in Zee Entertainment.

Published on October 18, 2019
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