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Source: Disney

Now that the merger between The Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox has been finalised, details have started to emerge of how the combined entity’s management team is going to look in Asia Pacific and the Middle East.

An internal memo from Uday Shankar, who was named as the new head of Disney in the Asia Pacific region last December, has revealed that several Fox executives will be playing leading roles in the new organisation.

These include Kurt Rieder, who currently heads Fox’s theatrical distribution across Asia, and will now head Disney’s studio business in the region, excluding India. Star India managing director Sanjay Gupta has been appointed Disney country manager for India and will also head studio business in the country. K Madhavan is also staying on as head of Star India’s regional language Media Networks.

Disney’s current EVP/managing director, North Asia, Luke Kang, will continue to head up North Asia for the new-look Disney, including direct country management of mainland China and Japan.

Among current Fox execs who will be departing are Zubin Gandevia, who previously headed Fox Networks Group across Asia Pacific and the Middle East, although he will be staying on for “a period of time to help transition the leadership of media networks in Southeast Asia”. 

Fox has historically been much stronger in pay-TV across Asia than Disney, especially in India where assets include the highly-coveted Star India network and streaming platform Hotstar. Before being appointed Disney’s new Asia chief, Shankar served as chairman of Star India.

In the internal memo, Shankar said: “It is a momentous opportunity to be able to chart the course of The Walt Disney Company in Asia Pacific and 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.

“We recognize 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.”

Other appointments in the new structure include:

  • Amit Malhotra will lead Emerging Markets and will also lead Content Sales for APAC (except North Asia), with a dual reporting to Janice Marinelli, who heads DTCI’s Global Content Sales and Distribution.
  • Chafic Najia will be Country Manager of the Middle East Media cluster.
  • Kylie Watson-Wheeler will continue to serve as Country Manager of Australian and New Zealand business with direct responsibility for Media Networks and Direct-to-Consumer.

Functional management will include:

  • Sanjay Jain will lead Finance.
  • Amita Maheshwari will lead Human Resources.
  • Anju Jain Kumar will be the Chief Regional Counsel for North Asia and ANZ.
  • Deepak Jacob will be the Chief Regional Counsel for India, South East Asia and Middle East.
  • Prateek Garg will manage Shankar’s office as head of Corporate Development and will work closely with Shankar and all business and functional heads.
  • Jessica Pouleur will lead Strategy and Business Development and will also take interim responsibility of leading strategy for Southeast Asia.
  • Jannie Poon will head Corporate Communications.
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