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Disney acquires controlling interest in India’s UTV

Citing the move as a “cornerstone” of its growth strategy, Walt Disney Company bought the interest through an unnamed subsidiary. UTV is one of the sub-continent’s leading media and entertainment companies.

The acquisition will be completed through a successful delisting offer and will enable Disney to integrate UTV’s current operations. UTV CEO Ronnie Screwvala has been named managing director of The Walt Disney Company India and reports to Walt Disney International chairman Andy Bird.

As a result of the acquisition, Disney will produce UTV-branded and Disney-branded films for the local market. The deal means Disney also gains control of UTV’s mobile gaming company Indiagames.

“Increasing our brand presence and reach in key international markets is a cornerstone of our growth strategy,” Bird said. “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.

“We couldn’t be more 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.”

“In combining the creative capabilities of each company we will integrate a large stable of vibrant brands and franchises in the branded entertainment space,” Screwvala said. “With the middle class expected to grow from 50m to more than 500m people by 2025, this market offers huge potential for us to deliver quality branded entertainment to consumers.”

UTV operates distribution in 20 countries in seven languages across 27 channels. Its six channels reach more than 100m viewers in India.

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

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