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Zee rejects Comcast-led group's offer, opts to sell stake to Invesco fund

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.'s promoters will sell up to an 11% stake in the company to Invesco Oppenheimer Developing Markets Fund, an investment company based in the U.S.

The transaction will have a total consideration value of up to 42.24 billion Indian rupees. Zee said July 31 that proceeds from the stake sale will go toward paying off the company's loans, with a goal to repay all its lenders by September.

Invesco Oppenheimer has been a financial investor in Zee since 2002. The fund owns a 7.7% stake in the Indian media conglomerate.

The transaction means Zee has rejected a nonbinding offer from a consortium led by Comcast Corp. to acquire a 51% stake in Zee for US$2.77 billion, according to The Economic Times (India). The Comcast group also includes private equity giant Blackstone Group Inc. and James Murdoch's Lupa Systems.

Since Essel Group announced in 2018 that it would divest up to 50% of its holding in Zee, several contenders have shown interest in the media company. Interested parties included Inc., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Sony Corp. was short-listed in the bidding process, but a potential deal with Zee was scrapped in April due to differences in valuation.

As of July 31, US$1 was equivalent to 68.84 Indian rupees.