Uday Shankar restructures Walt Disney Company APAC leadership team

Shankar picked the team with Sanjay Gupta, formerly MD of Star Network, as Country Manager of India, and Star Regional Media Networks’ K Madhavan to lead Star India’s regional language channels

Uday Shankar

Uday Shankar, the Chairman of Star and Disney India, and President of The Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific, announced new business leads and country managers in an internal memo to staff, according to media reports. 

The announcement comes after The Walt Disney Company completed the acquisition of 21st Century Fox last month. 

Star Regional Media Networks’ K Madhavan will lead Star India’s regional language channels and Kurt Rieder will lead the studio business in Asia, except for India.

Disney’s EVP and MD – North Asia, Luke Kang, will continue to lead the North Asia grouping of Greater China, Japan and Korea, and will have the direct country management of mainland China and Japan. 

Zubin Gandevia, who for several years has been head of Fox Networks Group in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, becomes the most senior Fox executive in Asia to depart the new post-merger company. As a signal of Fox Networks Group’s significance, Gandevia is being kept on for a transition period in Southeast Asia.

Shankar wrote in the memo:

It is a momentous opportunity to be able to chart the course of The Walt Disney Company in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East. While our region is experiencing tremendous change, the common thread that binds it together is the exciting opportunity it presents to build on the great businesses that we have today and create transformational businesses of tomorrow. My endeavour is to build an organisation that enables us to take full advantage of this unique opportunity and capitalise on the potential of the great leadership talent that we have in the region.

We recognise the need for a sharp focus on building deeply local businesses. To achieve this, we are making some changes to the current market structure. This will allow us to serve the strategic agenda in each market and enable our exceptional leaders to build even greater and more successful businesses. Above all, this will facilitate our transformation into a direct-to-consumer company that rests on deep local foundations.

The memo stated the new business leads and country managers, along with seven functional leads from finance, human resources, and corporate communication: 

  • Sanjay Gupta, formerly MD of Star Network, will be Country Manager of India and will have direct responsibility for the studio business in the country.
  • Amit Malhotra, formerly head of Malaysia and Singapore at Disney, will lead emerging markets. He will also lead content sales for APAC (except North Asia). In addition to reporting to Shankar, he will report to Janice Marinelli, President of Global Content Sales and Distribution for Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International.
  • Disney SVP, Chafic Najia will be Country Manager of the Middle East Media cluster.
  • Disney’s Kylie Watson-Wheeler will continue to serve as Country Manager of Australia and New Zealand, with direct responsibility for media networks and direct-to-consumer.
  • Sanjay Jain, former CFO at Fox’s Star, will lead finance.
  • Amita Maheshwari, former head of HR at Star, will lead human resources.
  • Anju Jain Kumar, from Disney, will be the Chief Regional Counsel for North Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Deepak Jacob, from Star’s legal department, will be the Chief Regional Counsel for India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
  • Prateek Garg, previously head of business development and acquisitions at Star, will manage Shankar’s office as Head of Corporate Development.
  • Jessica Pouleur, currently VP of Strategy and Business Development at The Walt Disney Company, will lead strategy and business development. She will also take interim responsibility of leading strategy for Southeast Asia.
  • Jannie Poon, SVP of Corporate Affairs and Communications at 21st Century Fox, will head corporate communications.
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