Disney and UTV to integrate operations

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | February 02, 2012
The Walt Disney-UTV deal finally concludes; while the financial details of the acquisition remain undisclosed, it may be recalled that in July 2010, Disney had bided an amount of $454 million to buy out the 49.56 per cent stake in UTV.

The Walt Disney Company has finally concluded its UTV-acquisition deal. It has announced that it will acquire, through a subsidiary, a controlling interest in UTV. The acquisition will be completed following a de-listing offer wherein Disney will be integrated into UTV's current operations.

While the financial details of the acquisition remain un-disclosed, it may be recalled that in July 2010, Disney had bided an amount of $454 million to buy out the 49.56 per cent in UTV.

Andy Bird

Ronnie Screwvala

"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," says Andy Bird, chairman, Walt Disney International, in an official communiqué.

Meanwhile, UTV CEO Ronnie Screwvala has been named managing director, The Walt Disney Company India, the holding company that will now manage UTV alongside its other assets in the country. Screwvala will report to Bird, who says, "We are 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."

According to Disney, its prospects to become India's leading film studio seems brighter with this acquisition. It will now produce both UTV and Disney-branded local films.

UTV is currently distributed in 20 countries in seven languages, across 27 channels. After the transaction, Disney will reach out to approximately 100 million viewers every week in households across India. Disney will also gain a significant presence in digital media with the addition of UTV's Indiagames, the 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. 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," says Screwvala.

For the record, in 2006, Disney bought a 14.85 per cent stake in UTV and increased it to 32.1 per cent after a gap of two years. In its buy-out offer in July 2010, the stake went up to 50.44 per cent, and the company announced an open offer to buy the remaining shares in December.

Disney currently owns India's kids' television networks Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Hungama, and is the largest retail character licensor in the country.

First Published : September 25, 2014 10:34 AM
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