Zee Telefilms made presentations to some of the big media-entertainment conglomerates like Viacom, Vivendi Universal and AOL-Time Warner, who are reportedly interested in a stake in Zee last Thursday. The process of negotiations and decision making is likely to be concluded by the end of the year.
According to Subash Chandra , the group needs immediate infusion of around Rs 200 crores for the projects in the pipeline. But these funds will be raised by selling real estate assets the group holds in the ‘Sun City’ complex in Delhi-Gurgaon, and through inter-corporate loans and securities that are maturing.
Chandra and the promoters’ holding in ZTL is currently at 58 per cent, down from a peak of 77 per cent. Of the Rs 220 crore, the promoters have paid back Rs 135 crore so far, and the remaining will be cleared by end-September, he said. So far, one lot of 50 lakh shares — representing 1.2 per cent of the company’s equity — has been sold for Rs 60 crore to the Oppenheimer Fund.
This raised the Fund’s holding in Zee to around 6.5 per cent. The second lot of 25 lakh shares was sold to a Government of Singapore fund for Rs 25 crore.
Discounting the doomsday talk surrounding his group, Chandra said that the Essel Group, even at today’s low stock prices, has a net worth of Rs 8,000 crore with a borrowings of Rs 950 crore, while the promoters have a net worth of Rs 4,000 crore with borrowings of Rs 315 crore.
Chandra also said that Zee had been denied permission to operate its earth station or teleport built at Noida, but an uplinking licence from India was likely to be granted to the company shortly.