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Leading from the Front

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The media and entertainment industry is abuzz with developments and speculations pertaining to Zee Entertainment and Sony Group merger, as decks are being cleared one by one. Sony-Zee together would create a $10 billion media giant, with over 100 entertainment channels in the bouquet.
Kenichiro Yoshida, Chief Executive Officer of Sony said last week that the company is expecting to close the Zee-Sony merger in the first half of this fiscal year, which is by September.

Punit Goenka is the man of the moment. After all, he was one of the major architects of this historic deal. Goenka, who is the Managing Director and CEO at ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. (ZEEL), has, however, maintained silence on the matter.

There have been several turbulences in the merger. On Monday, the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) asked the National Stock Exchange (NSE) and Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) to reconsider their initial approvals for the Sony-ZEE merger.

Goenka perhaps awaits an opportune time to speak. The company officials are in the ‘silent period’ anyway, as ZEEL’s quarterly and FY23 results are awaited on Thursday.

Business acumen
Zee and Sony’s merger is going to be the biggest deal in the Indian media and entertainment industry, with Punit Goenka at the helm.

It’s not a coincidence that Goenka was conferred with the Game Changer of the Year award at the International Advertising Association’s (IAA) Leadership Awards in 2022. He was also conferred with the IMPACT Person of the Year award by the exchange4media group in 2014.

His vision and acumen in the media domain enabled ZEE to become the frontrunner in India’s burgeoning entertainment industry, leading the company to achieve a global stature today.

Goenka was raised and educated in several Indian towns and cities before being sent to Institut Le Rosey, a boarding school in Rolle, Switzerland. This is where he went through a transformation, and inculcated leadership skills. His journey to becoming one of India’s most prominent business leaders is a captivating story.

His remarkable ability to steer ZEE Entertainment through testing times, including legal disputes with its largest shareholder and challenging macroeconomic conditions, is lauded by industry leaders.

“Goenka’s ability to stay calm amid turbulence is probably what helped Zee rise from a medium size broadcaster into one of the largest and steadiest media companies in India. Even in the face of adversity, his exceptional leadership skills have ensured ZEE’s unwavering course, maintaining stability and strength,” his critics opine.
With an extensive tenure of over 15 years in the company, Goenka has established himself as one of the most influential figures in the industry across Asia.

He emphasizes values, prioritizing them above mere valuation. Goenka, in a quarterly call with investors in the past, stated, “With its resilience and sharp focus on growth, ZEE has successfully expanded into new areas of business and consistently delivered immense value to all its stakeholders. We stay committed to building a value-generating institution for all our stakeholders.”

Stressing on his commitment to building long-term value, he said in an investor’s call in the past, “We are currently going through a phase where we are focusing on building value in the long-term, and are persisting with our investment themes, given our strong positioning and an attractive market opportunity ahead.”

“In addition to strengthening our current offerings, we are also consistently identifying newer growth opportunities for value creation,” he noted.

People’s man
Focus on human capital has been instrumental in driving innovation and excellence within ZEE under Goenka’s leadership, believe experts.
“Goenka has a knack for selecting the best people from across industries and nurturing them. Besides, he is a people’s man. He backs his senior team, even when certain decisions do not work in the short run,” one of his aides quips.

Ahead of the curve
Goenka transformed ZEE into a crown jewel, significantly reducing the debt burden of the Essel Group promoters. Through strategic initiatives and prudent management, he has meticulously fortified ZEE’s foundation, expanding its footprint across domestic and international markets.

His peers in the industry believe that ZEE’s proposal for a merger with Sony Pictures Networks India serves as a testament to Goenka’s ability to anticipate industry trends and identify expansion opportunities ahead of the curve.

Content King
Goenka is credited with strengthening ZEE brick by brick, expanding its presence across domestic and international shores with a diversified portfolio that captures consumers’ hearts across touch points. The strong content creation capabilities he has built within the company have enabled stories and characters from ZEE to resonate across markets and households for decades.

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