The Walt Disney Company has announced that Managing Director Ronnie Screwvala will step down on June 30, 2014. Siddharth Roy Kapur, currently Managing Director of Disney UTV Studio’s business, will take over the company’s India operations.
Roy Kapur will become Managing Director of TWDC India effective January 1, 2014, and Screwvala will assist in the transition until June 30. After June 2014, Screwvala 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, first as a Co- shareholder, then when Disney held a majority stake in UTV, and since February 2012 as Managing Director of Disney UTV India,” Screwvala said, adding, “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.”
Andy Bird, Chairman, Walt Disney International added here, “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ronnie for the past seven years and appreciate his entrepreneurial drive and vision for Disney in India. He has successfully managed integration efforts and set the foundations of long term growth for our business. In 2012 when we acquired UTV, Ronnie had a clear mandate to merge two organisations, build a single team and lay the strategic direction for a diversified media and entertainment company that would be part of the growing India growth story. When he passes on the baton in June 2014, almost two-and-half years since the acquisition, he will leave the company in a great place strategically and with a strong leadership team.”
“We are delighted that he will continue to be associated with Disney in the future,” Bird further said.
Bird also announced that Roy Kapur will become Managing Director of TWDC India effective January 1, 2014. “Sid has been an integral part of the Disney UTV family and brings to the role a diverse set of business and creative skills and a strong pulse on the Indian audience and consumers.”
Roy Kapur had 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 kids channel Hungama TV (which Disney bought in 2006) and then working closely with Screwvala to build UTV Motion Pictures, which he has headed since 2008.
“Disney is one of the most admired media brands in the world and I see this as a great opportunity to work together with the incredible team we have at Disney UTV in India, to take our content and our brands to the next level of growth in one of the most dynamic media markets in the world,” said Roy Kapur. “It’s been close to 15 years for me in media and entertainment, more than half of those at Disney UTV, and it’s wonderful to be part of a fantastic team and the diversified businesses that now make up the combined company.”
The combined Disney UTV entity today is built around five core brands – Disney, Marvel, UTV, Bindass and Hungama. It is a mix of a nine-broadcast-channel network; movie studio producing in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam, and also building an audience for Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel movies in India; mobile & social games and digital space; and branded-licensing with Disney and Marvel consumer products, publishing, live and home entertainment.
As is known, Screwvala had stepped into the television business as a local cable operator in Mumbai in 1981 forming his company called Network. Network aired movies in its video channel which was made available at some homes in Mumbai’s Cuffe Parade area. This was a time when the television space had a single player, the government owned and run Doordarshan. Screwvala went on to produce advertisements and content for Doordarshan with serials such as ‘Shanti’ and ‘Lifeline’.
He formed UTV Software Communications in 1990 in partnership with Zarina Mehta and Deven Khote, which started off by providing television content. Over the next two decades, the company expanded its offerings to include gaming, film production and other businesses. Screwvala launched the kids channel Hungama in 2004 and in the following year, UTV Group became listed on the Indian stock market.
In February 2012, The Walt Disney Company acquired a controlling stake in UTV. In July 2012, Zarina Mehta, one of the Co-founders of UTV, quit the organization to move full time into the foundation SHARE (Society to Heal, Aid, Restore And Educate) as Managing Trustee.
Incidentally, when checked on October 24, 2013, the UTV Group website stated that the “website is currently under maintenance. We should be back shortly”.