MUMBAI: Its official, UTV founder-promoter and ‘The Walt Disney Company India’ (TWDC) MD Ronnie Screwvala has stepped down.
If reports are to be believed then the Disney-UTV employees had sensed that this was coming a few months back. Siddharth Roy Kapur will become the managing director of ‘TWDC India’ effective 1 January 2014. Ronnie will assist Siddharth in the transition until 30 June 2014.
Ronnie is preparing for his new innings. He will pursue his entrepreneurial goals in some of the impact sectors in India and devote more time with his foundation, SWADES. “It’s been a fantastic seven year working relationship with Disney. It has been a great experience to be part of the world’s No.1 entertainment company and to have worked with such a talented team to solidify our footprint in India as a diversified and successful business across television, broadcasting, movies, consumer products, games and digital,” says Ronnie.
Ronnie has successfully managed integration efforts and set the foundations of long term growth for the business.
Siddharth, the new man in charge, started his career in brand management with Procter & Gamble and then worked with Star TV in Hong Kong, Dubai and Mumbai in various leadership roles. His tenure at UTV and later at Disney-UTV spans more than eight years, first as a member of the core team that launched the successful kids channel Hungama TV and then working closely with Ronnie to build UTV Motion Pictures, which he has headed since 2008.
UTV Motion Pictures has become one of the leading movie studios in the country, and is known for its path-breaking content and savvy marketing and distribution. The combined Disney-UTV entity is built around five core brands – Disney, Marvel, UTV, Bindass and Hungama. It is a nine-broadcast channel network that ranks in the top five networks of the country and with full local production capabilities.
It is a leading movie studio producing in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam, and also building an audience for Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel movies in India. Disney-UTV is also the leader in the mobile and social games and digital space, and one of the only players in the branded-licensing business in India with Disney and Marvel consumer products, publishing, live and home entertainment.
Ronnie gave Disney an opportunity to grow outside the kids segment in India. In 1998, he acquired Tamil channel Vijay TV from Vijay Mallya’s United Breweries, which he subsequently sold to Star India.
Ronnie also founded kids TV channel Hungama TV in 2004, built it to a leadership position and sold it to Disney for $30.5 million. This deal also marked the beginning of a partnership between the two companies with Disney simultaneously acquiring 14.9 per cent stake in UTV Software for $15 million.
Disney strengthened its partnership with UTV in 2008 by increasing its stake to 32.1 per cent for about $230 million. This was further upped to 50.44 per cent in 2011 and the following year saw Disney taking complete control of UTV Software Communications. We wish Ronnie and Siddharth all the very best and all the luck in their future endeavors.