Subhash Chandra may soon lose control of Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) as lenders prepare to sell their pledged shares. Asset managers, non-bank lenders, and foreign portfolio investors, who had extended loans to ZEEL’s promoters, plan to put their pledged shares in an escrow account. The group of lenders, which transferred a 10.77 percent stake into the escrow account, has already begun discussions with potential investors. Sony Corp and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp have expressed interest in buying Zee’s shares that will be placed for sale in the escrow account, a source told the newspaper.
In its endeavor to seamlessly distribute the sale proceeds to all lenders, Essel Group has appointed credible investment bankers to lead the divestment process. Chandra’s Essel Group companies own a 22.37 percent promoter stake in ZEEL. Out of this, 21.48 percent has been pledged as collateral against finances availed by the Essel Group. This group of lenders is the second lot to consider selling the pledged shares. VTB Capital has already secured rights to monetize 10.71 percent of Essel Media’s stake in ZEEL. The company has appointed JP Morgan and Citigroup Global Markets to help shortlist buyers for the pledged shares. If both the second group of lenders and VTB Capital sell the stake, Chandra’s stake in ZEEL will drop to 0.89 percent.