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India’s Zee Appoints Advisory Committee to Curb ‘Misinformation’ and ‘Erosion of Investor Wealth’ After Reports of Financial Irregularity

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Indian media giant Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) is setting up an advisory committee in the wake of recent allegations about the company’s financial transactions.

In 2023, Indian regulator Securities and Exchange Board (SEBI) barred MD-CEO Punit Goenka and ZEEL chair emeritus Subhash Chandra from holding management positions in listed companies while it carried out investigations into allegations of insider trading and fund siphoning. Goenka appealed the order with India’s Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) and the ban was lifted.

Earlier this week, a Bloomberg report alleged that SEBI had found a discrepancy of some $241 million in ZEEL’s accounts and that the company founders were being called in for questioning. “Reports and rumours pertaining to accounting issues in the company are incorrect and false,” was ZEEL’s response. ZEEL shares plummeted when the allegation surfaced.

On Friday, ZEEL said that its board “has approved to constitute an Independent Advisory Committee that will enable it to review and take cognizance of the widespread circulation of misinformation, market rumors, and speculation that has led to the formation of negative public opinion about the company and consequent erosion of investor wealth.”

The committee will be presided over by Satish Chandra, a former judge of the High Court of Allahabad, and will also have two independent directors of ZEEL, Uttam Prakash Agarwal and P. V. R. Murthy. “The committee will independently provide guidance on the measures and future course of action that the board is required to take in order to protect the interests of all the stakeholders of the company. The board will seek expert guidance of the committee on the aforementioned matters from time to time,” ZEEL said.

In January, Sony Group Corporation ended its more than two-year attempt to merge its TV and streaming businesses in India with ZEEL. The matter is under arbitration in Singapore and India.