Disclosure: Network18, the parent company of CNBCTV18.com, is controlled by Independent Media Trust, of which Reliance Industries is the sole beneficiary.
Invesco, the largest single minority shareholder in Zee, on Wednesday reiterated its confidence in the ability of Zee to realize its full potential but said the company needed an independent board.
“The recent interest of Sony, as well as the previous interest of Reliance, should be a reminder to all Zee shareholders of the enormous value that lies in this company, much in contrast to its dismal performance under the current leadership and Board over the last few years,” Invesco said in a release.
The fund was responding to Zee MD Puneet Goenka’s allegations that Invesco was trying to force the company into a deal with a strategic investor that would cause a loss of shareholders of Zee.
“Zee’s 12 October disclosure is yet another tactic to delay an EGM that will give shareholders their right under Indian law to vote for a slate of independent trustees and pave the way for a healthier future for Zee,” Invesco said.
The fund said it had facilitated a meeting between representatives of RIL and the promoter family. Later RIL clarified that it had made a fair offer to Zee, but backed off following disagreement on valuations. RIL said it always respects founders and never resorts to hostile takeovers.
Earlier this week, Invesco had issued a statement reiterating its call for an overhaul of the Zee board and also expressed concerns that the deal on Zee’s proposed merger with Sony India would benefit the Zee promoters while harming the interests of the minority shareholders.
“Zee needs a demarcation between the promoter family and the institution,” it said in an open letter to the company’s shareholders, adding, “Its board needs to be strengthened with independent directors who take their jobs seriously, who robustly debate vital decisions and who serve as guardians of all shareholder interests.”