Billionaire and media baron Subhash Chandra, chairperson, Essel Group turns 73 today. Having founded Zee TV in 1992, the second private commercial television channel in the country in association with Star TV in Hong Kong and Dish TV, the first satellite television provider in India, Chandra is one of most influential personalities in India’s media landscape.
Under Chandra’s leadership, the Zee TV network has grown exponentially. It today consists of 90 channels that reach around 1.3 billion people spanning 174 countries.
Chandra also forayed into the amusement business through Essel World, an amusement park which he founded and grew.
Chandra, in collaboration with Dainik Bhaskar Group, launched the DNA newspaper in Mumbai in 2005. The newspaper was launched to challenge the dominance of The Times of India. The battle between the two newspapers was long-standing. However, due to heavy losses, DNA had to retreat and eventually shut down entirely in 2019.
Some of the other businesses Chandra forayed include Essel Propack in packaging, online lottery Playwin, E-City Entertainment and the Indian Cricket League.
Chandra decided to enter the political world in 2016, when he was elected to the Upper House of the Indian Parliament for the state of Haryana during the Rajya Sabha elections. He participated as an independent candidate supported by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In 2022, he entered the Rajya Sabha elections as an independent candidate, backed by the BJP from the state of Rajasthan. He however, lost the election.
Chandra has also written three books - A Nomenclatural Guide to R. H. Beddome Ferns of South India and Ferns of British India, The Ferns of India and his biography The Z Factor: My Journey as the Wrong Man at the Right Time.
Of course, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Chandra. In April this year, SEBI had issued an interim order-cum-show-cause notice to Shirpur Gold Refinery Ltd (SGRL), its promoter Jayneer Infrapower and Multiventures, and six individuals, including its erstwhile chairman Amit Goenka, for allegedly siphoning off funds from the company and violating other rules.
The notices were issued after SEBI found that SGRL had diverted funds to its promoter Jayneer Infrapower and Multiventures, which is a part of the Subhash Chandra Goenka led-Essel Group. The company had also allegedly violated other rules, such as not maintaining proper books of accounts and records. This created roadblocks in the Zee-Sony merger announced in December 2021.
The outcome of the long awaited Zee-Sony merger is poised to be revealed in the coming week, reported Bloomberg. With an imminent deadline, both companies are compelled to either reconcile their differences and proceed with the deal or risk its falling apart.
Stakeholders are uncertain whether the issue can be solved before the December 21 deadline.
The Zee-Sony merger announced in December 2021 is set to create a media powerhouse worth $10 billion.
According to reports, Sony could be sending a letter next week to Zee informing them how the demands of the deal weren’t met.
Following its merger with Sony Entertainment India, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEEL) is set to be delisted from FTSE Global Equity indices. Culver Max Entertainment, the entity representing Sony Pictures Networks India, will replace ZEE in the indices.