Comcast-led consortium bids for majority stake in debt-laden Zee

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on July 30, 2019 Published on July 30, 2019

Subhash Chandra-led Zee Group could soon be out of its debt woes.

A consortium led by US cable company Comcast, including Atairos, Blackstone and James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, has put in a non-binding bid to acquire a majority stake in Zee Entertainment.

Zee already has another offer from an Asian investor group, according to sources close to the development. The company is expected to finalise the deal in two days, said a source.

The promoter group owns an about 36 per cent stake in Zee Entertainment. If the deal goes through, Chandra may completely exit the company.

Zee Entertainment shares were trading at ₹381 a piece on the BSE at close on Tuesday. At this price, the market cap of Zee Entertainment is ₹36,613 crore.

Debt reduction

Zee Group is being forced to sell its stake in the entertainment business as part of its debt reduction plan. Other group entities including Essel Infrastructure’s road and solar assets are also on the block separately.

In January, Chandra had said the group had successfully arrived at an understanding with lenders that have a lien on shares held by the promoters. Under this agreement, the group managed to buy time till September to conclude deleveraging exercises before lenders moved to declare it a defaulter. The largest divestment planned by Essel Infraprojects is in the roads segment. The company has put six of its 14 projects up for sale, including two State highways and four NHAI projects, and is aiming to raise ₹11,000-12,000 crore.

According to sources, talks are on with multiple players who have evinced interest in acquiring these assets and deals would be in place ahead of the September deadline.

Published on July 30, 2019
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