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Zee starts talks with Creditors for Sony Merger

Zee Entertainment Enterprises has begun settlement negotiations with its creditors in an effort to pay off debts. This will also help the company clear the final obstacle standing in the way of concluding a merger with the Sony Group that would create a USD10 billion media behemoth, according to reports.

The Indian television network has proposed repaying a loan of around Rs 1.49 billion rupees (USD 18.1 million) in instalments to IDBI Bank, one of the creditors who filed a petition with the insolvency court. The founders of Zee are reportedly in separate talks to pay Rs 400 million debts owed to firms they control with Axis Bank and JC Flowers & Co.'s asset reconstruction unit.

The payments are essential to the merger since it will result in a media company with the largest audience and the strongest negotiating leverage in the nation of more than 1.4 billion people. After the transaction is finalised, Zee's founders will control 3.99 per cent of the shares, Sony Pictures Networks India would hold slightly more than half, and public shareholders will hold the remaining shares. 

Several creditors to the company and its founders had been approaching the bankruptcy court seeking repayments. According to a filing by Zee, the company only just paid the debts of one creditor, IndusInd Bank, and the lender will no longer oppose the merger.

According to exchange documents, Atlanta-based Invesco Developing Markets Fund, which had the largest stake in Zed at the time of the merger announcement with an 18% shareholding, sold all of its shares in the business as of last week. In October, India's antitrust watchdog gave its approval to the sixteen-month-old merger pact.

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