The Walt Disney Company has announced that it will acquire, through a subsidiary, a controlling interest in UTV Software Communications Ltd, a media & entertainment company in India. The acquisition will be completed through a successful delisting offer and will enable Disney to integrate UTV’s current operations.
UTV CEO Ronnie Screwvala has been named Managing Director, The Walt Disney Company India reporting to Andy Bird, Chairman, Walt Disney International.
“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, monetise and brand multi-platform franchises, and deliver a rich library of content to the world’s second largest population,” said Bird, and added, “We couldn’t be more pleased that Ronnie, with his vast experience and proven track record, will now run our operations in India. Under his leadership, we will be able to deliver more programming on more platforms to this considerable audience.”
As a result of this acquisition, Disney will be a leading film studio player in India and will produce both UTV and Disney-branded local films.
UTV is amongst leading TV producers in India with distribution in 20 countries in seven languages and across 27 channels. In three years UTV has also become a key broadcast network in the country. After the transaction, Disney will be one of the leading broadcasters reaching more than 100 million viewers weekly in households across India. Disney will also gain a significant presence in digital media with the addition of UTV’s Indiagames, a mobile gaming company, to its portfolio.
“In combining the creative capabilities of each company, we will integrate a large stable of vibrant brands and franchises in the branded entertainment space,” said Screwvala. “With the middle class expected to grow from 50 million to more than 500 million people by 2025, this market offers huge potential for us to deliver quality branded entertainment to consumers,” he added.
Disney currently owns India’s leading kids’ television networks Disney Channel, Disney XD and Hungama and is the largest retail character licensor in the country. The Company’s mobile, internet and gaming division creates some of India’s most popular content, including Club Penguin, the virtual world for kids that launched in India in 2010.