New Delhi, Oct 4 The Competition Commission of India (CCI) gave its approval to the mega merger of homegrown media network Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEE) with Culver Max Entertainment, formerly known as Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI).

The approval came after the competition watchdog accepted “voluntary structural remedies” proposed by the parties, sources close to the development said.

“Commission approves amalgamation of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEE) and Bangla Entertainment Private Limited (BEPL) with Culver Max Entertainment Private Limited (CME), with certain modifications”, the CCI tweeted on Tuesday, 

This merger — which would create a $10 billion TV enterprise—will create the largest entertainment network in India with a 26 percent viewership share and could become a serious contender to replace market leader Star and Disney in the medium to long term, said experts.

ZEE and Sony announced their merger on September 22 last year. After a 90-day period to conduct due diligence for the process which ended on December 21 last year, the ZEE Board approved the merger with SPNI. 

ZEE Board said that while Sony will hold a 50.86 per cent stake in the merged entity, promoters of ZEEL will hold 3.99 per cent, and the other ZEEL shareholders will hold a 45.15 per cent stake in the combined company.

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The CCI is learnt to have communicated to the companies on August 3through a notice that their “humongous market position’’ would allow them to enjoy “unparalleled bargaining power’’, which could enable them to increase the prices of channels and earn higher profits.

Both the Bombay Stock Exchange and the National Stock Exchange in July gave their go-ahead for the merger.

“We will now await remaining regulatory approvals to finally launch the new merged company. The merged company will create extraordinary value for Indian consumers and eventually lead the consumer transition from traditional pay TV into the digital future,” Sony Pictures said in a statement.

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