Ronnie Screwvala to quit Disney India; Siddharth Roy Kapur to take over as new chief

Media industry veteran Ronnie Screwvala is quitting his role as the chief of Disney India ending his association with UTV Software Communications, a media firm founded by him and later acquired by Disney. Screwvala, who serves as managing director of The Walt Disney Company India, will quit the company on June 30, 2014, as per an official statement issued by the company on Thursday.

Siddharth Roy Kapur, who is currently the MD of Disney UTV Studio’s business, will take over the company’s India operations from January 1, 2014, as per a filing.

Screwvala will remain with the firm till next June to see through the transition period.

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.

“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. We are delighted that he will continue to be associated with Disney in the future,” commented Andy Bird, chairman, Walt Disney International.

“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,” said Screwvala.

Kapur, who has been working with Disney for eight years, started his carrier at Procter & Gamble and then worked with STAR TV in Hong Kong, Dubai and Mumbai in various leadership roles.

He was a member of core team that launched the kids channel Hungama TV (which Disney bought in 2006) and has been working closely with Screwvala to build UTV Motion Pictures, which he been heading since 2008.

Screwvala had stepped into the media entertainment business as a local cable operator in Mumbai around three decades ago. In early 90s he co-founded UTV Software Communications with wife Zarina Mehta.

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.

In February 2012, The Walt Disney Company acquired a controlling stake in UTV. In July 2012, Zarina Mehta quit the organisation to move full time into the foundation SHARE (Society to Heal, Aid, Restore And Educate) as managing trustee. Screwvala sold his stake in UTV Software Communications to Walt Disney for an estimated Rs 800-1,000 crore.

Since then he has turned a private investor through his family office Unilazer Ventures. This venture focuses more on early-stage investments in its private equity practice looking to invest across sectors in the domestic consumption theme.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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