Sony to Form Indian Media Conglomerate in Proposed Merger

    • Sony India has agreed to a deal with Zee Entertainment to take 53% of the company, forming a major media conglomerate in India.
    • Sony will invest $1.58 billion in Zee as part of the deal.

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With major cricket bidding rights on the horizon, Sony India and Zee Entertainment will combine into a media conglomerate in India if a proposed merger goes through — creating a formidable rival to Disney.

The proposed merger would see Sony purchase 53% of Zee with a $1.58 billion investment and control of a majority of board seats, while Zee CEO Punit Goenka would head the new company.

The new entity would likely be a competitive bidder for Indian Premier League rights, which will be up for grabs next year.

  • Sony gained rights to the enormously popular cricket league with its 2016 purchase of Ten Sports from Zee for $385 million. Ten also held rights to WWE, the UEFA Champions League, and major events in tennis and golf. 
  • Sony held the IPL rights until 2018, when Star India won them on a $2.22 billion contract that runs through 2022. 
  • Disney bought Star, including its Hotstar network, in 2019 for $71 billion.

Zee funded the short-lived Indian Cricket League, which began in 2007 — one year before the IPL’s debut — and folded in 2009.

The merger still needs to be approved by Zee’s shareholders. Zee’s stock price spiked around 30% on Wednesday.