India’s Zee Entertainment on Tuesday said top shareholder Invesco’s opposition to a proposed merger of the TV network with Sony’s India unit is hypocritical because the U.S. investment firm pitched a deal with similar terms earlier this year.
Invesco’s “stance… runs contrary to the very deal Invesco was proposing itself a few months ago,” Zee Entertainment Enterprises said in a statement, disclosing that proposal for the first time, Reuters reported.
In February Invesco, which owns roughly 18 percent of Zee via two funds, tried to combine the media firm with “certain entities owned by a large Indian group” in a manoeuvre that would have allowed Zee CEO Punit Goenka to head the merged company, Zee said.
That deal would have also given Zee’s founding family a higher stake of up to 8% in the new company, a move Invesco has opposed in the impending merger with Sony.
Mumbai-headquartered Zee said Invesco was pushing for the deal even though its management team found that the value of the Indian group’s entities could have been blown up by at least RS. 100 billion ($1.33 billion).
Invesco, which is now calling for Goenka’s ouster and a board revamp, previously wrote several letters acknowledging his “reputation, experience and capability as a professional” and also voted in favour of his re-appointment as CEO in September 2020, Zee said.
Invesco also has proposed an overhaul of Zee’s board. Zee said Invesco’s demands were not motivated by a desire to serve the company’s business or the public interest.
Invesco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Invesco’s opposition clouds prospects for the Sony deal, which prompted a sharp rise in Zee’s share price when it was announced in September. As part of the deal, Sony India would control about 53 percent of the merged company.