Zee Entertainment and Essel Group: A Quest for Legacy and Beyond (A)
The case traces the entrepreneurial journey of Indian media baron Subhash Chandra. It starts with his entry into a struggling family business in 1967 and observes his evolution from a young, aspiring entrepreneur to the chairman of Essel Group, one of India's largest business entities with interests in diversified sectors such as media, entertainment, education and infrastructure. Chandra entered his family's agricultural commodities business in 1967 when it was in dire straits. In the 1970s and 80s, he forayed into entirely new sectors such as packaging and amusement parks. In 1991, he set up Zee Telefilms (later Zee Entertainment) and launched Zee TV, India's first non-public service television channel. By creating and broadcasting content in local Indian languages, Zee reached a wide audience of viewers across the country. Due to a first-mover advantage, Zee instantly became a huge success. Over the next three decades, Chandra pursued new business opportunities in the media industry, with considerable success. In 2018, Zee was a thriving enterprise, with a global viewership of 1.3 billion and business segments spanning broadcasting, music, film production, and digital over-the-top (OTT) media. In 2007, to create a long-lasting legacy and diversify his personal wealth, Chandra entered the Indian infrastructure industry and bid for multiple projects in a short span of five years, winning several of them. However, unable to convert the infrastructure projects into profitable ventures due to unprofitable bids and execution mistakes, he started to accumulate significant debt. His personal financial situation deteriorated to such an extent that he resorted to offering the shares of the listed companies he owned (including Zee) as collateral to banks to take additional debt to save his infrastructure business. The case ends with Chandra, and indeed his whole business empire, in a precarious situation due to indebtedness and facing some tough decisions.