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Zee agrees to merge with Sony Pictures Networks India, fusing legacy media giants

SPNI will have majority control of the board of the new company

Two of India's largest traditional broadcasters will be joining hands: Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited has agreed to merge with Sony Pictures Networks India(SPNI), the cable TV network owned by Japanese conglomerate Sony. Zee announced the proposed merger in regulatory filings on Wednesday. SPNI will have majority control of the board of the new company, with ZEEL CEO Punit Goenka heading management. "The shareholders of SPNI, will hold a majority stake in the merged entity. The shareholders of SPNI will also infuse growth capital into SPNI as part of the merger such that SPNI has approximately US$1.575 billion at closing, for use in pursuing other growth opportunities," Zee said in its press release announcing the merger. The Sony Group said that this money would be used for improving the combined company's tech platforms and boost its position to bid for sports content. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals, the companies said. Why it matters: The move creates a lifeline for Zee, whose finances have struggled under the dual blow of declining viewer revenues and cut marketing spend from advertisers. On top of giving Zee an opportunity to dig itself out, the merged entity could be a force to reckon with, with dozens of TV channels, thousands of films, and a fair amount of music — the Zee Music Company has the rights to the music from almost a thousand films, and that label is now a cousin to Sony Music, essentially contributing to the consolidation of the music publishing industry. And…

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