SINGAPORE, January 05, 2024 – The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has rejected Sony Group Corp.’s request for interim relief, preventing Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEEL) from pursuing legal action in an Indian corporate court regarding the abandoned $10 billion media merger.
In the aftermath of the cancellation of their intended media merger in India last month, Sony Group and Zee Entertainment have been embroiled in a dispute. Sony has accused the Indian firm of failing to meet the conditions specified in the merger agreement, prompting Sony to file an arbitration application in Singapore seeking a termination fee from Zee.
According to an official exchange filing by Zee, the emergency arbitrator in Singapore has granted permission for Zee to advance its case against Sony’s Indian entities, Culver Max Entertainment Pvt and Bangla Entertainment Pvt, within the Indian company court. Zee aims to enforce the initially proposed merger plan between the companies, a move that Sony had tried to obstruct through its emergency plea presented to the Singapore arbitrator.
On December 21, 2021, Sony Pictures Networks India Private Limited (SPNI) and ZEEL had announced that they have signed definitive agreements to merge ZEEL with and into SPNI and combine their linear networks, digital assets, production operations and program libraries. The agreements follow the conclusion of an exclusive negotiation period during which ZEEL and SPNI conducted mutual due diligence. After closing, the new combined company was expected to be be publicly listed in India.
The combination of ZEEL and SPNI was expected to achieve business synergies and given their relative strengths in scripted, factual and sports programming, respective distribution footprints across India and iconic entertainment brands.
The seamless blend of rich expertise in content creation, deep consumer insights and success across entertainment genres was expected to drive the combined company’s ability to accrue higher shareholder value. Under the stewardship of the Sony Group, a global leader in consumer technologies, gaming and entertainment, the combined company was expected to be able to better compete with the world’s largest streaming players.