As the drama in the Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEE) boardroom moves to the courts, there are myriad theories unfolding on whether the Sony Pictures Network-Zee Entertainment deal will ever see the light of day. None appears credible though. Take them all with a pinch of salt as there are multiple stakeholders at work.

While some declare outright that the current imbroglio is unlikely to end any time soon (leading to Sony losing interest in the deal), others believe the deal may finally go through but the journey will not be easy. A section also believes that Subhash Chandra, Founder, Zee Entertainment is trying to buy time by taking the matter to the courts. “As the courtroom battle progresses, Chandra will use the time to convince fence-sitting investors to bat for the Sony-Zee merger,” says a senior stock market broker on condition of anonymity.

The chatter in business circles is that a leading Indian business house is pushing Invesco and OFI Global China (which has an 18.44% stake) to derail the merger. “Invesco didn’t cause the term-sheet, the latter caused Invesco. It got a whiff of it and that would have meant somebody who was behind Invesco (and wanting to acquire Zee), would have thought that its intent was getting checkmated. Therefore, Invesco would have stepped in and said that it was not in agreement with what was happening at Zee,” says senior media industry professional Paritosh Joshi.

Apart from the Indian business house, there is also murmur of a global media baron firing at Zee from Invesco’s arms. “Invesco is behaving like a motivated investor. An 18.44% stake doesn’t give the investor the right to change the board,” points out Arun Kejriwal, Founder, Kejriwal Research and Investment Services. Kejriwal doesn’t buy Invesco’s argument that it is trying to protect shareholder interest. “The stock market is well aware that Invesco is not playing the role of a white knight. It is playing a vested interest game. The stock market is waiting and watching,” Kejriwal further adds.

In fact, Subhash Chandra, also went public on Wednesday evening saying Invesco is making a clandestine and illegal attempt to acquire Zee and at no cost would he allow that.

However, several senior industry leaders don’t buy the argument of a leading Indian conglomerate wanting to buy Zee through Invesco. “The intriguing thing is that the ZEE stock now is almost 50% higher than what it was a month ago. Why would a competitor who wants to acquire drive the price up?” questions a senior media professional.

According to this professional, between an Indian conglomerate and a global media baron, the latter wanting to acquire is more likely. “I would say that’s more likely because he is not in a position to do a deal by himself and would need a partner like Invesco which already has a stake in the business. You must remember, funds have no friends and enemies, their only friend is returns.”

Former Chairman and CEO of Neo Sports, Harish Thawani (currently Founder, The Indus Club), agrees with the media professional. “I don’t see how it makes sense for the large industrial group rumoured to be behind this. They could have bought at a lower price and counted an open offer at a six-month average price, which would have been far lower than today’s trading price.”

A section of industry believes it is not just Chandra who is trying to buy time, Invesco is trying to do the same too. “The motive would be to delay the process as long as it can, so that governance issues are sorted and it is able to get the best possible exit,” says the CEO of a leading brokerage.

The plot of the drama is getting complicated with each passing day and the unanimous belief is that it is unlikely to end any time soon. Will Sony Pictures Network give Zee a binding offer at the end of the 90-day deadline? It is peppered with scepticism.

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