While the Essel Group has gained some time from its lenders to effect a tidy-up of its financials, Zee Entertainment Enterprises’ (ZEEL) top brass say that it is willing to sell over half of its holdings in the flagship firm to raise the much-needed cash.
ZEEL had announced in November last year that its promoters, led by Essel chairman Subhash Chandra, planned to sell up to 50 per cent of their equity stake in the company to a strategic partner.
Speaking in an analysts’ call last week, ZEEL MD and CEO Punit Goenka said the group was willing to consider selling more than 50 per cent of their holdings if an opportunity arises. “If somebody is making an offer… beyond the 50 per cent stake, we will look at it,” Goenka had said.
Essel’s troubles have deepened since the November announcement to sell 50 per cent in ZEEL. In late January, Essel group companies had been hit hard on the markets with Chandra claiming that negative forces were trying to sabotage the group’s efforts to raise money and that its financial mess was due to some bad infrastructure segment bets.
The group then reached a deal with its lenders under which it gets time till September to deleverage or reduce its debt. It had also sold a few shares on the open market between January 25 and February 1 in as many as six of its listed firms including ZEEL.
The current promoter holding in ZEEL is down to 39.08 per cent versus 41.62 per cent as on December 31, 2018.
Goenka, meanwhile, also said that promoters are in talks with more than two investors for the ZEEL stake sale.
As far as how the stake sale is being planned for, Goenka said the group is working on multiple strategies and depending on what works out first, the full equity realisation from that move would go towards the payment of the debt.
According to Goenka, the company has set a March-April deadline for concluding the sale.