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Competition Commission gives conditional approval to Sony-Zee merger deal

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  • The deal, announced last September, has the Competition Commission from Indianods.
  • The deal remains subject to applicable regulatory and other approvals, ZEEL said.
  • The combined entity will own more than 70 TV channels, 2 video streaming services (ZEE5 and Sony LIV) and two film studios (Sea Studios and Sony Pictures Films India).


The Competition Commission on Tuesday gave its conditional approval to the mega merger agreement between Sony and Zee, creating one of the country’s largest media groups.

The deal, announced last September, has received approval from the Competition Commission of India after the regulator accepted “voluntary remedies” proposed by the parties, sources close to development said.

In a tweet, the watchdog said it has approved the deal with certain changes.

CCI said it was the “merger of” Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) and Bangla Entertainment Private Limited (BEPL) with Culver Max Entertainment Private Limited (CME), with certain changes”.

Details on the proposed changes could not be immediately determined.

CCI had notified the parties after initially concluding that the deal could adversely affect competition, the sources said.

The parties then proposed voluntary remedies, which have been accepted by the regulator, they added.

ZEEL said CCI granted Phase 1 approval after reviewing the company’s official legal and economic comments.

Most deals are approved by CCI in Phase 1, and only if there are serious concerns, will the deal in question be put under Phase 2 for public scrutiny.

“Given the tremendous value the proposed merger will generate for all of its stakeholders, the company has offered necessary remedies in line with the regulator’s guidance,” said ZEEL, adding that further details are pending.

On September 7, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had advised the company to convene and hold its shareholders’ meeting on October 14 to obtain their approval for the proposed merger.

The deal remains subject to applicable regulatory and other approvals, ZEEL said.

In a separate statement, Sony Pictures Networks India said it was pleased with the CCI’s approval of the merger.

“We are now awaiting remaining regulatory approvals to finally launch the newly merged company. The merged company will create extraordinary value for Indian consumers and ultimately lead the consumer’s transition from traditional pay-TV to the digital future,” it said. .

Culver Max Entertainment Private Limited was previously known as Sony Pictures Networks India Pvt Ltd.

Deals above certain thresholds require approval from CCI, which monitors unfair business practices and also promotes fair competition in the marketplace.

Both parties had signed a definitive deal for the deal in December last year, and the proposed merger has already received approval from the NSE and BSE exchanges.

ZEEL said in September 2021 that it has entered into a non-binding term sheet with SPNI to bring together their linear networks, digital assets, production operations and program libraries.

The combined entity will own more than 70 TV channels, 2 video streaming services (ZEE5 and Sony LIV) and two movie studios (Sea Studios and Sony Pictures Films India), making it the largest entertainment network in India, ZEEL said last September.

Under the deal there will be an amalgamation of ZEE and BEPL with CME. In addition, CME will make preferential allotment of certain shares to Sunbright International Holdings Limited, formerly known as Essel Holdings Limited, and Sunbright Mauritius Investments Limited, according to a release from CCI.

CME is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Group Corporation (SGC). CME has several general entertainment channels, movie, sports and entertainment channels for kids in India.

SonyLIV is CME’s digital entertainment video service providing OTT services in India and international markets. CME reaches over 700 million viewers in India and is available in 167 countries.

BEPL is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of SGC and part of the SGC group. It broadly deals with acquiring rights for movies, events and other TV content

graft; and in generating advertising revenue from broadcasting TV content.

ZEE is a media and entertainment company, with a presence in the broadcasting, digital content, movies, music and live entertainment segments, spanning 190 countries, according to the release.

ZEE5 is the company’s digital entertainment video service providing OTT services in India and international markets.

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