Invesco Developing Markets Fund, an arm of the USbased outfit, has mandated Kotak Securities to sell nearly 7. 5 crore Zee shares through block deals on Thursday. The move comes two weeks after Invesco withdrew its demand to oust MD Punit Goenka from the company, which was founded by his father in 1992.
Invesco currently holds 18. 8% in the broadcaster, which is in the process of merging its operations with Japanese media house Sony’s India arm. Invesco said its deci- sion to retain 11% stake in Zee, where it first checked in 2002, underscores “its belief that the Sony deal in its current form has great potential for the company’s shareholders”.
Invesco had increased its stake in Zee to 18. 8% from about 8% in August 2019 by buying shares from the promoters, who needed funds to retire debt. The transaction made Invesco the biggest sharehol- der in Zee but with no board position. On Wednesday, Invesco said its three funds are selling a total of 7. 8% stake in Zee “to align their exposures to Zee with other funds managed by its investment team and to achieve an aggregate ownership position”.
In September 2021, Invesco had asked for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to remove Goenka and induct six independent directors on the Zee board. Soon after that, the broadcaster struck a merger deal with Sony. The deal, currently pending regulatory and shareholder approvals, gives Zee 47% in the combined entity and keeps Goenka in the driver’s seat.
Though Invesco backed the merger from day one, it was against certain terms that favoured Goenka and his family at the expense of ordinary shareholders. After Zee rejected Invesco’s EGM request, the US fund was in a legal battle with the broadcaster. On March 21, 2022, it had scored a victory at the Bombay high court where a two-judge bench had allowed the EGM to go ahead.
The Bombay HC order was expected to be challenged at the Supreme Court by the Zee management and the promoters. But two weeks ago, Invesco decided not to pursue the EGM request.