Punit Goenka on ZEEL debts: “Almost half has been paid”

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Punit Goenka, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Limited, has updated the media on the ongoing financial strain the company has been going through over the past few months. In July, Essel Group confirmed Invesco Oppenheimer Developing Markets Fund agreed to buy up to an 11% stake in ZEEL from its promoters.

In an exclusive interview with The Economic Times, Goenka said, “Let’s dial back. In January 2019, the total loan against shares and some other securities was about Rs 13,500 crore. Today, that debt stands at Rs 7,000 crore. Almost half of that has been repaid by us or by the markets — whatever you want to call it.”

Goenka opened up about the timeline for the remainder of the debts being paid off. He said, “There are multiple due dates for the domestic loans. The next due date is April 2020 and the last one is, I think, in June 2021. But we don’t want to wait till then. We want to sort out the problem within the next three months itself and get the whole thing resolved.

Currently, uncertainties are unnecessarily driving the whole situation and nobody is talking about the strong performance that the company is delivering. We are in the silent period so can’t talk about numbers, but we have been beating the market on all metrics. In two weeks, the results will reflect that. The crown jewel is being protected from that point of view.”

Goenka also spoke about a possibility of a major stakeholder coming to rescue the business, “We were open to selling majority stake when the strategic players were in dialogue. Our objective is to solve the problem. The stakeholder interest has been prime in our view and will remain prime till this whole problem is solved.”

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