Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. said on Sunday that the Sony Group’s request for a stay against the Indian media company’s move to the NCLT to enforce the merger that was cancelled by the Japanese company’s Indian arm has been denied by the Singapore Arbitration Centre.
The interim relief sought by Culver Max and BEPL (Bangla Entertainment Pvt Ltd) to restrain Zee Entertainment Enterprise Ltd (ZEEL) was denied by an Emergency Arbitrator of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre. ZEEL stated in a filing to stock exchanges that the arbitrator lacked jurisdiction to pass such an order.
In addition, it stated, “We wish to inform you that the Emergency Arbitrator has determined that the Emergency Arbitrator has no jurisdiction or authority to injunct the Company from approaching the NCLT to implement the Merger Scheme since these are matters which fall within the statutory system and are for the NCLT to decide.” The Emergency Arbitrator’s award, dated February 4, 2024, denied the application for emergency interim relief filed by Culver Max and BEPL.
The merger agreement between Sony and ZEEL to combine its two Indian companies, Culver Max Entertainment (formerly known as Sony Pictures Network India) and BEPL, was terminated last month.
Sony Group Corporation (SGC) claimed that ZEEL had not complied with the merger requirements and had filed for arbitration before SIAC, requesting a termination fee of USD 90 million (approximately Rs 748.5 cr).
In the meantime, ZEEL petitioned the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) to order the Sony Group to carry out the merger plan. Additionally, ZEEL had started the proper legal proceedings to refute the USD 90 million claims Sony Group had made to SIAC.
It claimed that BEPL (Bangla Entertainment Pvt Ltd), a company owned by the Sony Group, and Culver Max, a company that was going to merge with ZEEL, “are in default of their obligations to give effect to” and carry out the merger plan that the NCLT approved.
In a regulatory filing on January 24, two days after Sony terminated the merger agreement, ZEEL had stated, “The company approached the NCLT, Mumbai-bench, seeking directions to implement the merger scheme, among other things.”
On August 10, 2023, the Mumbai bench of the NCLT approved ZEEL’s plan to merge with BEPL and Culver Max Entertainment, two Sony group companies. This merger could have resulted in the creation of a media company valued at USD 10 billion.
The largest entertainment network in the nation would have been created by the combination of Zee Studios and Sony Pictures Films India, over 70 TV channels, two video streaming services (ZEE5 and Sony LIV), and two movie studios.