MUMBAI: A lot of movement is happening within and outside UTV and Disney India post the announcement of the buyout by Disney. Screwvala has been officially named Managing Director of the new entity and will report to Chairman of Walt Disney International, Andy Bird. As such, he will not be an employee of UTV Software. Representatives of Disney have also been officially listed under Board of Directors on UTV’s website.
While Andy Bird and Kevin Mayer have been listed as Non-Executive Director, the role of Robert Gilby is not very clear. While a lot is being closely guarded about this restructuring, businessofcinema.com has learnt that Raj Malik, Disney- India’s Distribution Head has put in his papers. Unconfirmed reports also suggest that Mahesh Samat, who had joined Disney as Senior VP in 2007 and was named MD in 2010, has, as of Jan 2012, put in his papers. He was to be made CEO of Disney India and would report to Screwvala instead of Bird.
It is also unclear which verticals will fall under which company, but it seems that while UTV will continue to look into marketing and distribution, Disney will manage HR and finance When contacted, UTV officials have refused to comment for now.
In July last year, Walt Disney Co offered to buy out stakes held by public shareholders and other promoters of the UTV Software Communications in a deal valued around Rs. 2000 crore. In December 2011, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the deal and Walt Disney shelled out USD 454 million to buy the shares it did not already own.
The story goes back to 2004, when Disney established its India subsidiary and gradually began investing in UTV. Before the merger, Walt Disney already owned 50.44% of the publicly listed UTV. Now, the company has already bought the shares owned by Ronnie Screwvala (founder of UTV), Unilazer and Unilazer HK. On 6 February, plans to delist UTV from the Indian Stock Exchange were initiated and instead, a new company called Walt Disney Company India will be founded. The new holding company will manage UTV and other assets in the country.
With major influence over film, television, gaming as well as animation in India, Andy Bird, Chairman of Walt Disney International said, “Increasing our brand presence and reach in key international markets is a cornerstone of our growth strategy. This acquisition expands our footprint significantly and allows us to more effectively build, monetize and brand multi-platform franchises, and deliver a rich library of content to the world’s second largest population”.
But for now, as of today, 9 March 2012, UTV Software Communications will stop trading on NSE, pursuant to voluntary delisting. Once the delisting is successful, reports suggest that Disney will take over the stakes of husband-and-wife founders of UTV (Ronnie Screwvala and Zarina Mehta) as well.