US firm’s huge revelation, says India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani was interested in Zee but deal failed to materialise


US-based firm Invesco has sensationally revealed that India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, was interested in Zee, one of India’s largest media groups.

The stunning revelation by Invesco came hours after Zee Entertainment Enterprises said that Invesco had approached its Managing Director and CEO, Punit Goenka, with a merger proposal in February on behalf of a rival company.

According to a report by Business Standard, Zee said that it would have incurred a loss of Rs 10,000 crore in the event that the deal had gone through.

Invesco has now revealed that the rival company in question was Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries Limited.

However, according to news agency Reuters, Invesco said that it was merely trying to ‘facilitate’ the deal between Reliance and Zee in its capacity as the single largest shareholder in Zee.

“The role of Invesco, as Zee’s single largest shareholder, was to help facilitate that potential transaction and nothing more,” Invesco was quoted as saying.

The US-based firm added, “…the implication that we as a shareholder would seek out a transaction for Zee that is dilutive to the long-term interests of ordinary shareholders, including ourselves, simply defies logic.”

The tussle between Invesco and Zee management has taken an ugly turn with Subhash Chandra recently appearing on Zee News to accuse the former of trying to mount a hostile takeover.

Invesco has been requesting for a shareholder meeting, but Zee has rejected that demand. Invesco has now approached a tribunal to force Zee to call for the shareholder meeting. Zee has two weeks to respond to the tribunal.

Ambani’s Reliance already owns a huge media empire including Network18 group (CNN-News18, News18 India and CNBC TV18), Colors TV, VH1, Nickelodeon and MTV among others. The RIL also owns several websites such as Firstpost and moneycontrol.

In a more setback to Subhash Chandra, the Reuters report added, Invesco has alleged that financial irregularities plaguing Zee were linked to Goenka’s family. Puneet Goenka is the son Subhash Chandra.