Amid the escalating fight with Invesco, Zee entertainment CEO and MD Punit Goenka on Thursday issued his first official statement, saying he will continue to take the required steps to safeguard Zee and its future.
While acknowledging that Invesco has been an "extremely strong support" to the company, he said, the souring relationship between the two companies pains him.
"All I want is a better tomorrow for ZEE, one that is filled with higher returns and value for shareholders and immense growth opportunities," he said.
Goenka questioned the intention of Invesco while pointing fingers at the investment firm over corporate governance for not making public a proposed deal Reliance Industries earlier.
"Why didn't Invesco make its plans public earlier?... Does good corporate governance only apply to corporates and not their institutional investors?," Goenka said in a statement.
According to Goenka, the fight with Invesco is to ensure ZEEL continues to gain immense growth opportunities and become a stronger and more formidable player in the media and entertainment sector. Goenka stressed that he would not let anyone impact the future of ZEEL or diminish the shareholder value it has been consistently generating over the years.
"My demeanour is not to indulge in an ill-natured fight. Such battles are best handled by legal experts. All I am contending for, is to preserve the future of this company, and not my position," he said.
Earlier this week,Invesco wrote an open letter to Zee shareholders saying it feared the merger proposal with Sony India would enrich the promoter family while hurting Zee’s minority shareholders’ interests.
On Tuesday, Punit Goenka told the Zee board that Invesco had approached him in February with a proposed merger with “a large Indian group”, without mentioning RIL, adding that he rejected the deal because it would result in a loss to Zee shareholders.
Meanwhile, Reliance Industries on Wednesday said it regretted being drawn into the ongoing dispute between Zee Entertainment and Invesco, and that media reports around its offer for Zee were inaccurate.
“We had made a broad proposal for merger of our media properties with Zee at fair valuations of Zee and all our properties. The valuations of Zee and our properties were arrived at based on the same parameters,” the RIL release said, mentioning that Invesco assisted Reliance in arranging discussions directly between its representatives and Punit Goenka, Managing Director of Zee.
“However, differences arose between Mr Goenka and Invesco with respect to a requirement of the founding family for increasing their stake by subscribing to preferential warrants. The investors seemed to be of the view that the founders could always increase their stake through market purchases. At Reliance, we respect all founders and have never resorted to any hostile transactions. So, we did not proceed further,” the release said.
Invesco along with OFI Global China Fund LLC hold a 17.88 percent stake in Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) and have been pressing for an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to discuss various issues, including the removal of Goenka and appointment of its nominees on the company's board.