Zee-Invesco feud: NCLAT concludes hearing, to pass order later in the day

Team Udayavani, Oct 7, 2021, 4:07 PM IST

New Delhi: The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on Thursday completed the hearing on a petition filed by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) seeking more time to reply to Invesco”s demand for convening a shareholders” meeting.

After concluding the hearing, the NCLAT bench comprising Justice Jarat K Jain and Alok Srivastava said the order will be passed today and uploaded on the website of the appellate tribunal.

Interestingly, the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) is to hear the matter of Invesco”s petition seeking convening of the Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) later in the day.

On Tuesday, the NCLT had directed ZEEL to respond to Invesco”s requisition for holding the meeting by October 7.

The petition seeking convening of the EGM has been filed by minority shareholders — Invesco and OFI Global China Fund. Invesco Developing Markets Fund (formerly Invesco Oppenheimer Developing Markets Fund) along with OFI Global China Fund LLC hold 17.88 per cent stake in ZEEL.

They have moved the plea seeking convening of the EGM, removing the company”s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Punit Goenka as well as two other directors, and reconstituting the board with the appointment of six new directors.

During the proceedings before the NCLAT, senior advocate Navroz Seervai asked for more time for ZEEL to file a reply to the petition and said it would be a “travesty of justice” and a “violation of natural justice” if more time is not granted for the company.

According to him, the NCLT has tried to convert an “ad interim” matter into a final one and the law permits 90 days to file a reply over such notices.

The NCLT has given them just 36 hours to file reply and tried to convert an “ad interim” matter into a final one, while the law permits 90 days to file a reply over such notice, Seervai said.

He was also supported by advocate Arun Kathpalia appearing for independent directors of ZEEL and said the NCLT”s direction seeking the company”s reply by October 7 was a gross abuse of law.

However, senior advocates — Mukul Rohatgi and Janak Dwarkadas — representing the minority investors said when the petition was filed, and even during the hearing, the company did not ask for time.

Rohatgi also said that ZEEL”s petition before the appellate tribunal was “abuse of legal process” as they have time to file a 400-page long suit before the Bombay High Court but not to reply to Invesco”s petition, and was now seeking extra time.

Last week, ZEEL had moved the Bombay High Court against the petition of the minority shareholders. Besides, ZEEL board had rejected the minority shareholders” demand and termed the requisition as “invalid and illegal”.

Amid the spat, Zee Chairman Emeritus Subhash Chandra on Wednesday asked Invesco to make an open offer and take over the company if it wants, and also said that the investment firm was acting in a clandestine manner.

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