The Competition Commission of India (CCI), India’s competition watchdog, has approved the merger of Culver Max Entertainment Private Limited (earlier known as Sony Pictures Network India) and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL). In its official communique, ZEEL stated that the CCI has granted the approval in Phase-1 after evaluating the official legal and economic submissions made by it. Considering the immense value which the proposed merger will generate for all its stakeholders, the company has offered the necessary remedies in accordance with the regulator’s guidelines. “Detailed order is awaited. The approval from the CCI is a yet another positive step in the overall merger approval process,”ZEEL said.
In its order pronounced on September 7, 2022, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had advised the company to convene and conduct the meeting with its shareholders on October 14, to seek their approval for the proposed merger. The Composite Scheme of Arrangement remains subject to applicable regulatory and other approvals.
“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 Networks India, said on the CCI approval.
The CCI, as per sources, has cited certain conditions for the same. Once met, the two broadcasting houses will be able to consolidate their TV channels, streaming platforms, as well as their film assets.
Zee Entertainment has stated that in its order pronounced on September 7 2022, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had advised the company to convene and conduct a meeting with its shareholders on October 14 2022 to seek their approval for the proposed merger.
As per various media reports, the CCI had stated in a 21-page notice that its initial assessment showed the proposed deal will leave the merged business in a strong position” with roughly 92 channels in India, citing Sony’s global revenue of $86 billion and assets of $211 billion.
CCI had claimed that the consolidation has the potential to hurt competition by providing “unparalleled bargaining power.” Recently, Zee and Culver Max offered to close TV channels in the relevant markets if needed in order to allay CCI’s concern over market domination.