Walt Disney International, a division of The Walt Disney Company, today announced that Mahesh Samat will return to his leadership role of The Walt Disney Company India as Managing Director. Samat will resume management of all Disney businesses in India (except ESPN), with all local business segments reporting to him.
“Mahesh guided Disney in India in its early days, and we are thrilled with his decision to return to the organisation he helped build,” said Andy Bird, Chairman, Walt Disney International. “We are encouraged by the opportunity we see to further grow our business in India and believe Mahesh’s entrepreneurial spirit, knowledge of our brands and franchises, and long-standing expertise in our broader operations will continue the momentum we are experiencing in this dynamic market.”
Samat succeeds Siddharth Roy-Kapur, who is departing the company to explore his own business interests. “Sid is a pillar of the Indian entertainment industry and has demonstrated passion and commitment for the Disney business. He carved a strong position for Disney in the Indian media and entertainment space that positions us well for the future. We are immensely thankful for his service and wish him well in his next venture,” Bird said.
As Managing Director, Samat will have responsibility for setting and driving The Walt Disney Company’s strategy, coordinating all business efforts in India including overseeing Disney global franchises in the market, expanding existing businesses, and creating new business opportunities. Starting November 28, Samat will be based in Mumbai and report directly to Bird.
Samat departed Disney India four years ago to establish Epic Television Networks and was Founder and Managing Director of The Epic Channel, a popular Hindi entertainment channel (HD) focused on history, folklore and mythology-based content.
“It’s exciting to return to the wonderful world of Disney,” Samat said. “Disney really is special entertainment with heart, and I am delighted to see that the unique stories and iconic characters of Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars--as well as our homegrown brands of Hungama, Bindass and UTV--continue to find a home among Indian audiences. Moving forward, we’ll accelerate the great work done by the team and create new, innovative ways for audiences to engage with our stories, brands and characters, and drive growth across our businesses.”
With more than 25 years of experience in FMCG and healthcare across India, Asia-Pacific and Europe, Samat originally joined Disney from Johnson & Johnson, where he was the Managing Director, Southern Europe, J&J Vision Care, based out of London. Prior to Johnson & Johnson, he worked for Kellogg’s, Warner Lambert/Parke-Davis, and Boots India Limited.
Samat holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Sydenham College and a Masters degree in Business Administration from the Indian Institute of Management.