Television

Liberty Media to be Zee's strategic partner?

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Just under three months after Zee Telefilms chairman Subhash Chandra announced he was looking to induct an international media major as strategic partner, the field for possible choices has narrowed to three likely players.

Of the three names that are being mentioned, the most likely party that will take a stake is Liberty Media Group, a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T which also holds major stakes in Discovery Communications and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, merchant banking sources say. Two other names - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc (MGM), which already has an association with Zee in Zee MGM, Zee TV's rechristened English movie channel, and Viacom, whose Nickelodeon is distributed by the Zee Group MSO Siticable, have also been mentioned as strong possibilities.

What Chandra's holding will be when and if Liberty buys into Zee will be interesting to watch. There are reports circulating that Chandra would be willing to bring down his holding in Zee to 26 per cent, which is partly the reason why the scrip has been witnessing heightened activity over the last few days.

The search for a partner for Zee is being managed by UBS Warburg in Mumbai.

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