Zee, Sony call off stake sale talks; Sequoia Capital plans seed fund
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A potential deal between media baron Subhash Chandra-led Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd and Japan’s Sony Corporation has been scrapped over valuation differences. The development has cleared the way for a consortium of US telecom conglomerate Comcast along with its partner investment firm Atairos to take over the talks, The Economic Times reported, citing four persons in the know.

Earlier, ET reported that Sony was in talks buy 20-25% in Zee Entertainment.

According to multiple people in the know, Sony had made a bid to merge its existing operations with ZEE and had also offered a cash buyout option. Comcast, on the other hand, is open to promoters staying on as junior partners and will consider buying them out fully at a later date, the ET report stated.

Besides Sony and Comcast-Atairos, iPhone maker Apple was also in talks with Chandra for a bid, but Zee has not shown as much interest in the Tim Cook-led company and hasn’t reverted with an offer, the report added.

Chandra has been looking to sell a stake in the company in order to repay promoter debt worth Rs 13,000 crore, ET had stated earlier.

Sequoia seed fund

Multi-stage investment firm Sequoia Capital is aiming to raise a seed fund of $150-200 million, The Economic Times reported, citing people aware of the plan. Sequoia has approached limited partners to pitch for the seed fund, the report said.

The move comes after Sequoia hired Google India head Rajan Anandan to lead its startup accelerator programme Surge.

The investment firm had unveiled Surge in January. At the time, it had said that it back 10 to 20 early-stage startups in two cohorts in a year and invest $1.5 million (Rs 10.6 crore) in each of them at an early stage.

The programme will invest in startups both in India and Southeast Asia across sectors such as consumer internet, deep tech, enterprise software, healthcare technology, fintech, cryptocurrency and direct-to-consumer brands.

Zoomcar funding talks

Automotive major Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd in is talks to lead a fresh investment round in self-drive car rental startup Zoomcar, a report in Mint stated, citing two people in the know.

Mahindra may put in $300-400 million and Zoomcar’s existing investors from the US may also participate in the round, the report stated, citing the second person mentioned above.

Zoomcar will use the capital to buy more vehicles, the person was quoted as telling Mint.

The investment is expected to be a mix of debt and equity, the persons mentioned above told Mint. According to an industry analyst, if 40% of the transaction comprises an equity proportion, the round will value Zoomcar at almost $1 billion, the report stated.

Zoomcar last raised capital in February last year. Then, Mahindra had picked up a 16% stake in the firm for $27.6 million (Rs 176 crore then) as part of its $40-million Series C round, which it led. The deal valued the firm at around $172 million (Rs 1,100 crore).

The company was founded in 2012 by Greg Moran and David Back. It allows users to pick up cars from designated locations after placing a booking online or via the app. Besides Mahindra, its other investors include global automaker Ford, venture capital firm Sequoia India and angel investors like TV Mohandas Pai, former chief financial officer and HR head of IT major Infosys, and Lawrence Summers, former US treasury secretary.

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