Subhash Chandra’s Background
Dr. Subhash Chandra, chairman of the Essel Group, launched India’s first satellite television on this day (October 2) in 1992, which is now known as Zee TV around the world. He is the founder of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, which was established on December 15, 1991, just months before the channel’s debut. Dr. Chandra was born into the Agarwal Bania family of Adampur, Haryana.
“It is a fairly emotional moment for me as this cherished institution completes 29 incredible years,” stated Punit Goenka, the company’s current CEO, on the 29th anniversary of ZEE. I’m incredibly proud of the enormous value ZEE has delivered for all of its stakeholders over the years.”
He joined his family trade firm after dropping out of school and worked closely with the Food Corporation of India (FCI). He discussed his notion of storing food grains in open years and covering them with special plastic sheets at work. Grain was previously kept in overcrowded godowns.
He persuaded FCI of his concept and brought Swiss machinery to India to produce these sheets. However, because of a lack of experience, almost 90% of the sheet was thrown away. As a result, he dispatched engineers to Switzerland to educate them and restart the manufacturing process. The plan worked.
Subhash Chandra, the 71-year-old chairman of the Essel Group and the founder of Zee TV, is no stranger to corporate wranglings, but he wants to move on from the current squabbles by reaching out to lenders with an olive branch.
Chandra, who sold Zee Entertainment Enterprises to Sony Pictures Networks India, says he wants to “move on in life” and carve himself a new niche in the media industry. “I launched Zee with just Rs 9 crore in 1992 and turned it into a billion-dollar business.” I’ve got a lot of fire left in me to start over. In any event, digital companies do not necessitate a large sum of money,” he explained.
In an interview with FE on Tuesday, Chandra stated that he is willing to leave his DTH company, Dish TV, if the company’s major shareholder, Yes Bank, determines whether it wants to be a shareholder or a lender, and permits him to pay his debts on time.
“If Yes Bank wants my brother (Jawahar Goel) to stand down as chairman and managing director of Dish TV, he is happy to do so, but they must first decide whether they are a shareholder or a lender,” Chandra added. “If they believe we are not running the company well, they should take over,” he continued, “but they must make it clear that they are shareholders, not lenders.”
Chandra claims that he has paid off 91 percent of his debts to lenders and that if the Dish TV dispute is resolved, he will be able to pay off the rest.
Chandra acknowledged that he made mistakes when it came to amassing a massive debt of approximately Rs 16,000 crore in 2019, of which roughly Rs 11,000 crore was owing to banks and NBFCs, but said that he has no regrets. “I committed mistakes, but they were blunders with good intentions.” I have no regrets and have accepted responsibility for my faults,” he added, adding that he should not have ventured into unrelated industries like infrastructure and should have quit failing enterprises rather than dumping more money into them.
When asked on Dish TV why the family did not agree to Yes Bank’s proposals to remove five directors, including chairman and managing director Jawahar Goel, citing governance concerns, Chandra stated the board had turned them down after careful study. The National Company Law Tribunal is hearing the case, he said.
Regarding allegations that Dish TV is in talks to merge with Bharti Airtel’s DTH venture, Chandra stated that no such move is being pursued by his company, but that Yes Bank may be.