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Punit Goenka to ZEEL staff: Stake sale as per debt repayment plan

New Delhi, Nov 21: Punit Goenka, the MD and CEO of Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEE) has written to the employees of the company saying the proposed sale of 16.5 per cent stake by the Essel Group is in line with the overall debt repayment plan.

Describing the decision as a strong step forward, Goenka, who was reappointed as the MD and CEO earlier in November, said he looks forward to work with the employees and elevate the company to a global media and entertainment powerhouse, said the communication seen by IANS.

He said the promoters would continue to hold 5 per cent stake in the company and thanked the employees for their trust and support.The Subhash Chandra-led Essel group on Wednesday announced that it is planning to sell 16.5 per cent stake in ZEEL to financial investors in order to repay loan obligations to certain lenders of the group.

After this transaction, the promoter stake in Zee Entertainment will be reduced to 5 per cent, which means that media baron Subhash Chandra will lose control of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. Zee, considered a pioneer of television entertainment industry in India, was launched by Subhash Chandra in 1992. Ever since the launch year, the company expanded operations to enter packaging, infrastructure, education, precious metals, finance and technology sectors.

Earlier this year, Essel Group sold up to 11 per cent in Zee Entertainment to Invesco Oppenheimer Developing Markets Fund for Rs 4,224 crore. Prior to the Wednesday announcement, Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group companies held 22.37 per cent promoter stake in Zee. Of this, 21.48 per cent was pledged as collateral against finances availed by Essel Group firms.

Post completion of the transaction announced on Wednesday by the company, Oppenheimer Developing Markets Fund and OFI Global China will together hold 18.74 per cent. Shares of ZEEL on the BSE, closed at Rs 345.25 on Thursday, higher by Rs 38.10 or 12.40 per cent from the previous close.