Zee Entertainment in talks to sell sports broadcasting business

Media baron Subhash Chandra-led Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd said on Monday it is in advanced talks with potential buyers to sell its sports broadcasting business housed under Ten Sports.

The company didn’t give any details or timeline in a stock-exchange filing citing confidentiality reasons.

Zee’s statement came after news channel CNBC-TV18 reported that broadcaster Sony Pictures Networks India was likely to buy Ten Sports for about Rs 2,000 crore ($300 million).

A spokesperson for Zee declined to comment on the development.

On August 8, The Economic Times had first reported that Zee was in talks with Sony to sell its sports business and that a deal was likely to be announced within a month. The report said that Zee was looking to exit the loss-making business.

Zee had initially acquired a 50% stake in Ten Sports from Taj Television India Pvt. Ltd, part of Dubai-based Bukhatir Group, in 2006 and increased its stake in 2010.

If a deal goes through, it would strengthen the sports broadcasting business of Sony Pictures in India. The company, part of the Japanese technology and media conglomerate Sony Corp, competes with Star India, owned by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, in India’s sports broadcasting segment. Murdoch also controls News Corp, the parent of this news website. Sony had previously said that it was open to acquiring regional channels in India.

Ten Sports Network operates five channels—Ten Sports, Ten HD, Ten Action, Ten Cricket and Ten Golf HD—in India and three international channels including one each in the Middle East and the Caribbean, according to its website.

Ten Sports owns broadcast rights for the cricket boards of South Africa, West Indies, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It also holds broadcast rights for wrestling, football, tennis, golf and athletics events.

Zee Entertainment had recently launched an English news channel called WION. It is also entering the teleshopping business with the acquisition of two companies from Living Media India Ltd, also known as India Today Group. Earlier this year, it had launched a second video streaming platform called OZEE, a free-to-watch over-the-top platform.

Shares of Zee Entertainment rose 4.3% on Monday to close at Rs 529.50 in a Mumbai market that gained 0.4%.

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