Zee Entertainment's Punit Hints at Workforce Reductions Amid Sony Merger Setback

By Consultants Review Team Wednesday, 14 February 2024

During an investors' call, Zee Entertainment's Managing Director, Punit Goenka, outlined plans for implementing a 'frugal approach' aimed at achieving an 18 to 20 percent EBITDA margin coupled with 8-10 percent CAGR revenue growth. This strategy involves stringent measures such as reducing expenditure, limiting the introduction of new content properties, and conducting a comprehensive review of the firm's sports portfolio.

Addressing concerns over cost optimization, Goenka emphasized the necessity of tightening the company's belt on manpower. While he refrained from explicitly stating the extent of potential layoffs, Goenka indicated that evaluating overlaps within the workforce would be a crucial aspect of the plan moving forward.

"Over the past three decades, Zee has been lauded for its fiscal prudence within the industry. Looking ahead, we will place an even stronger emphasis on frugality, with an unwavering focus on maintaining quality and productivity," Goenka asserted.

However, Goenka remained reticent regarding inquiries concerning the failed merger discussions with Sony, citing ongoing legal proceedings surrounding the matter.

As part of the broader strategy to enhance revenues and margins, Goenka highlighted the need for recalibrating cost structures, particularly in businesses like OTT, and implementing content and tech-driven strategies. This may entail curbing certain outputs within the company.

Despite encountering setbacks, Zee Entertainment reported a notable 140 percent increase in profit, amounting to Rs 58.5 crore in the December quarter of FY24, compared to Rs 24.32 crore recorded during the corresponding period the previous year.

Meanwhile, sources revealed that Sony had not formally proposed any changes to Punit Goenka's position as Managing Director and CEO of Zee Entertainment.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Rohit Gupta provided insights into the company's financial performance, noting a 12.8 percent quarter-on-quarter decline in overall operating costs during Q3FY24. Despite effective cost management, EBITDA margins experienced a slight decline to 10.2 percent, primarily attributable to merger-related expenses and exceptional items totaling Rs 60.3 crore incurred during the quarter.

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