Hours after Invesco dragged Reliance Industries into its combat with Zee Entertainment Enterprises, Mukesh Ambani-led RIL on Wednesday sought to make clear that it “never resorted to any hostile transactions”.
RIL stated it regrets being drawn into the dispute between Zee and Invesco and that the studies within the media will not be correct.
“In February/ March 2021, Invesco assisted Reliance in arranging discussions directly between our representatives and Mr Punit Goenka, member of the founder family and Managing Director of Zee. We had made a broad proposal for merger of our media properties with Zee at fair valuations of Zee and all our properties. The valuations of Zee and our properties were arrived at based on the same parameters. The proposal sought to harness the strengths of all the merging entities and would have helped to create substantial value for all, including the shareholders of Zee.
“Reliance at all times endeavours to proceed with the present administration of the investee corporations and reward them for his or her efficiency. Accordingly, the proposal included continuation of Mr Goenka as Managing Director and difficulty of ESOPs to administration, together with Mr Goenka.
However, variations arose between Mr Goenka and Invesco with respect to a requirement of the founding household for rising their stake by subscribing to preferential warrants. The buyers appeared to be of the view that the founders might at all times improve their stake via market purchases. At Reliance, we respect all founders and have by no means resorted to any hostile transactions. So, we didn’t proceed additional,” the oil-to-telecom conglomerate said in a statement.
Invesco said, earlier on Wednesday, that it facilitated talks between Reliance Industries and Zee Entertainment earlier this year on a possible tie-up, revealing for the first time that India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, was interested in the television giant.
But the US investment firm rejected allegations from Zee that it was resorting to double standards by objecting to a potential merger with Sony Group’s India unit with terms similar to those discussed with Reliance.
Invesco’s response is the latest in a growing public spat where the US investor, which owns 18% of Zee, is calling for a revamp of Zee’s board and the removal of CEO Punit Goenka over alleged corporate governance lapses.
Zee said on Tuesday that the opposition by Invesco to the proposed Sony deal “runs opposite to the very deal Invesco was proposing” with Reliance and that the US firm’s demands were not motivated by concerns around corporate governance or the company’s business.
Zee has accused Invesco of plotting a hostile takeover of the company, dismissed requests to call a shareholder meeting to vote on the US investor’s demands and said it has tightened its processes. The two sides are now locked in a bitter legal and public tussle where they are lashing out at each other almost daily.