'Invesco should come back to shareholders & explain why we should vote for them'

If Invesco has any problems, they should take us into confidence, a ZEEL shareholder said during the AGM

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Sep 14, 2021 8:38 PM
Zee

Invesco Developing Markets Fund should come back to the shareholders and explain why they should vote for the resolution seeking his removal, a ZEEL shareholder said during the 39th AGM of the company.

“Invesco is having some problems. So if they have any problems, they should take us into confidence. Also, they should come in the AGM and explain what is wrong with the company. I hope Invesco is listening. They should not just show the power by the shareholding. They should also come back to the shareholders and explain why we should vote for them. We will be open-minded, and we will decide on merits,” the shareholder asserted.

Invesco Developing Markets Fund (formerly Invesco Oppenheimer Developing Markets Fund) and its subsidiary OFI Global China Fund LLC have sought an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) for removing Punit Goenka from the company. Apart from him, the two shareholders have also sought removal of independent directors Manish Chokhani and Ashok Kurien both of whom have already resigned from the company's board. Invesco and OFI Global together hold 17.88% in ZEEL.
The two shareholders have also moved a proposal for appointment of Surendra Singh Sirohi, Naina Krishna Murthy, Rohan Dhamija, Aruna Sharma, Srinivasa Rao Addepalli, and Gaurav Mehta as independent directors.

Goenka also clarified that the company has not given any loans to related parties like Dish TV and Siti Networks. “There have been business revenues that we collect from related parties like Siti Cable and Dish TV and other parties, and the board monitors these recoveries very closely and the management is engaged with related parties for recovery of our overdues, if any.”

He also said that the reason of resignations of Chokhani and Kurien are self-explanatory. Chokhani cited changed circumstances and perspective after Covid-19 for his resignation, while Kurien has mentioned pre-occupation as the reason for his resignation. “I think we must respect the choice of wanting to spend their time in other things that they are devoted to,” he said.

Speaking at the AGM, ZEEL Chairman R Gopalan said that stronger governance continues to be a key tenet of ZEE 4.0. He also mentioned that various new policies have been introduced that have enabled the company to mitigate its risks and safeguard its business interests.

Highlighting the ZEE 4.0 vision, Gopalan said that the company has enhanced its “focus on governance in a granular manner by several notches”. He also that the company has inducted two new members -- Sasha Mirchandani and Vivek Mehra. “They will further build value and guide the leadership team,” he said.

Gopalan pointed out that Manish Chokhani and Ashok Kurien have resigned as non-executive non-independent directors of the company with effect from September 12, 2021. “Hence, the voting with respect to notice pertaining to the continuation of directorship of Ashok Kurien and Manish Chokhani, respectively, proposed to be passed at this AGM, has become ineffective,” he added.

Goenka said that the company is taking necessary steps to improve corporate governance. “As the Chairman suggested in his speech, we give strong emphasis on corporate governance. We have examined the matter, and will take necessary steps as applicable in the interest of all shareholders.”

Highlighting the progress made by the company during FY21, Goenka said that the company expanded its broadcast portfolio with the launch of two new channels during the year. He also said that the company is revamping the programming line-ups of its entertainment channel portfolio in key markets.

He noted that the pandemic gave an opportunity to all emerging digital businesses to get a wider audience sampling. “Our digital offerings ZEE5 also leverage this opportunity to grow its user base during the year as India's biggest producer, or digital exclusive content in the country,” Goenka said.

ZEE5, he said, scaled up its content library, along with enhancing the consumer experience on the platform. “ZEE5 also continued to expand its presence outside India, which will help us remain relevant in markets which are transitioning to digital,” he added.

Goenka said that the fiscal 2021 was an unprecedented year on all counts and challenging at several levels. “After a massive disruption in the first half, we saw our advertising revenues reduced by almost half. There was a sharp rebound in the later part of the year, leading to a 6.8 percent growth in the second half.”

He also said that ZEEL's subscription revenue saw comparable growth of 5.2% during the year, driven by ZEE5.

Talking about ZEE 4.0 strategy, Goenka said that it encompasses a new pattern of thoughts, a new wave of emotions, a new connection with consumers/partners, and a new strategic vision for growth. ZEE 4.0 has been conceptualised after taking a long term view of the technological and societal changes, influencing the media and entertainment ecosystem.

“We embarked on the Zee 4.0 transformative journey to unveil a new organization design and a clear-cut growth strategy for the company, substantial efforts have been taken to transform the organization into the Zee 4.0 version, across the five G's, which is governance granularity, growth, goodwill and gusto,” Goenka said.

“ Zee Studios, which is a movie business, faced the biggest impact of Covid-19 pandemic due to the closure of malls and theatres across the country. Even certain states are still to open the theatres and malls and that business continues to be impacted,” Goenka said.

I think some of the few learnings that we've had is the importance of continuing shoot operations seamlessly, which were disrupted during the wave one of the pandemic. We also realize how important it is for adoption of technology in business operations. Planning has become even more critical going forward, which is certainly helped us do in Wave 2,” Goenka said.

“We also want to be the leading studio in, in films across six languages, and we will continue to increase our market share in the music category also,” Goenka said.

“In terms of verticals, our linear business enjoys the maximum of popularity and profitability. We are still in investment mode for our digital business and our film business. We enjoyed leadership in several of the markets that we operate in. The future roadmap for the next three years is going to be driven through digital. The digital business has great promise of future. It is growing multifold.”

“Our total travel and conveyance expenses have come down from Rs 88 crore in financial year 2020 to Rs 63 crore in financial year 2021,” he added.

In response to a query about frauds detected in the case of a whistleblower policy, Goenka stated no fraud was detected during the year. He also said that the company's total spend on CSR as Rs 50 crore in FY21, out of which Rs 33.5 crore has been spent for COVID-19.

Goenka also informed that the company has done vaccination drives across all its offices in India and international markets. “Nearly 83% of our employees have taken their first dose and 19 percent have taken both doses.”

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