Update: It’s official. We’ve just received a press release from Disney that Screwvala will step down next year, on 30th June 2014, around 8 months from today. Siddarth Roy Kapur will take over from him as Disney India MD. Roy Kapur will become the MD from 1st January 2014. Screwvala, thus, leaves the company 2.5 years after Disney acquired UTV. A copy of the press release is at the end of this post.
Exclusive: Ronnie Screwvala, the Managing Director of Disney UTV is leaving the company, MediaNama has learned from multiple reliable sources within the company. Siddharth Roy Kapur, currently the MD of Disney Studios (Movies) in India, will be taking over from Screwvala as the Disney India MD. A formal announcement is expected soon, and from what we’ve heard, Andy Bird, the Chairman of Walt Disney International is in India to make that announcement. Attempts at getting in touch with Screwvala and Disney corp-comm have not yielded any response.
Screwvala had been made the MD of the Disney-UTV after Disney had acquired UTV, a company he founded. Sources also tell us that Screwvala had a five year lock-in period, following the acquisition, so his early departure does come as a surprise. However, note that other UTV executives who had joined Disney following the acquisition, such as Vishal Gondal, Sameer Bangara and Sameer Pitalwalla, have also left the firm. Post acquisition, Disney had de-listed UTV from the Bombay Stock Exchange, after acquiring its entire public shareholding, and following a restructuring, much of the UTV team had taken over key operations at Disney India.
According to Business Standard, Screvwala made Rs 2000 crore from the Disney deal, around Rs 800 crore of which he is using to invest in startups via his venture fund Unilazer Ventures. Among these are Internet businesses – including Valyoo (which runs the e-commerce business Lenskart), employee marketplace OnContract, online career counseling firm MeraCareerGuide.com, automobile analytics firm Himex. Unilazer has also backed venture fund India Quotient, which is invested in invested in pet ecommerce site Dogspot.in, online cosmetics shop Vellvette ($500k), online jobs portal IIMJobs, and online aptitude test site mapmytalent, price comparison site 91Mobiles, apart from some offline ventures.
Photo credit: Screwvala’s twitter profile.
Update: the press release from Disney India:
DISNEY ANNOUNCES SUCCESSION PLAN IN INDIA
MUMBAI, 24 OCTOBER 2013: The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) today announced that Managing Director Ronnie Screwvala will step down on 30th June 2014 and Siddharth Roy Kapur, currently Managing Director of Disney UTV’s studio’s business, will take over the Company’s India operations. Mr. Siddharth Roy Kapur will become Managing Director of TWDC India effective 1st January 2014, and Mr. Screwvala will assist in the transition until 30th June 2014.
“It’s been a fantastic seven-year working relationship with Disney,” said Mr. Screwvala, “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. It has been a great experience to be part of the world’s No.1 entertainment company and to have worked with such a talented team to solidify our footprint in India as a diversified and successful business across Television, Broadcasting, Movies, Consumer Products, Games & Digital.”
Andy Bird, Chairman of Walt Disney International added, “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. In 2012 when we acquired UTV, Ronnie had a clear mandate to merge two organisations, build a single team and lay the strategic direction for a diversified media and entertainment company that would be part of the growing India growth story. When he passes on the baton in June 2014, almost two-and-half years since the acquisition, he will leave the Company in a great place strategically and with a strong leadership team.
“I want to thank Ronnie for helping to shape Disney’s journey in India and for his contribution to our success. We are delighted that he will continue to be associated with Disney in the future,” added Mr. Bird.
Mr. Bird also announced that Mr. Roy Kapur will become Managing Director of TWDC India effective 1st January 2014. “Sid has been an integral part of the Disney UTV family and brings to the role a diverse set of business and creative skills and a strong pulse on the Indian audience and consumers.”
Mr. Roy Kapur started his career in brand management with Procter & Gamble and then worked with STAR TV in Hong Kong, Dubai and Mumbai in various leadership roles. His tenure at UTV and later at Disney UTV spans more than eight years, first as a member of the core team that launched the successful kids channel Hungama TV (which Disney bought in 2006) and then working closely with Mr. Screwvala to build UTV Motion Pictures, which he has headed since 2008. UTV Motion Pictures has become one of the leading movie studios in the country, and is known for its path-breaking content and savvy marketing and distribution.
“Sid’s innate understanding of the Indian viewer, his ability to leverage those insights in business, coupled with his experience and expertise in fast-moving consumer goods businesses, television and in building India’s leading movie studio made him the natural choice for the role. I look forward to working with Sid to take Disney UTV to its next level of growth in the years to come,” added Mr. Bird.
“Disney is one of the most admired media brands in the world and I see this as a great opportunity to work together with the incredible team we have at Disney UTV in India, to take our content and our brands to the next level of growth in one of the most dynamic media markets in the world,” said Mr. Roy Kapur. “It’s been close to 15 years for me in media and entertainment, more than half of those at Disney UTV, and it’s wonderful to be part of a fantastic team and the diversified businesses that now make up the combined Company.”
The combined Disney UTV entity today is built around five core brands: Disney, Marvel, UTV, Bindass and Hungama—It is a strong mix of a nine-broadcast-channel network that ranks in the top five networks of the country and with full local production capabilities; India’s leading movie studio producing in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam, and also building an audience for Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel movies in India; the leader in the mobile and social games and digital space, and one of the only players in the branded-licensing business in India with Disney and Marvel consumer products, publishing, live and home entertainment.
“The Walt Disney Company is unique, as its business spans media and entertainment but at its core are the magical experiences it creates for the whole family,” Mr. Screwvala said. “It owns the best intellectual properties and characters that appeal to people of all ages. The next decade will see the development of even more of the best home entertainment for Indian consumers, and Disney stands to solidify its position as India’s first truly local and global family brand.”
After June 2014, Mr. Screwvala will pursue his entrepreneurial goals in some of the impact sectors in India and devote more time with his foundation, SWADES.