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Walt Disneys $71.3 billion acquisition of large parts of 21st Century Fox is beginning to have an impact on the combined company’s Asian operation, which has reshuffled its management, with some key Fox executives being elevated.
Their rise to leadership positions underscores the dominance of Fox in the region thanks to its TV powerhouse Star, which is a leading media player in India. In December, then-21st Century Fox Asia president and chairman and Star India CEO Uday Shankar was named president of Star and Disney India and president of the Asia Pacific region at Disney.
In an internal memo early this week, Shankar shared details of the revised management structure, saying: “It is a momentous opportunity to be able to chart the course of The Walt Disney Company in Asia Pacific and Middle East.”
He also underscored “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.”
Star India CEO Sanjay Gupta will be Disney’s country manager of India and will also have direct responsibility for the Indian studio business, Fox Star Studios. Kurt Rieder, Fox’s international executive vp theatrical, Asia Pacific, will now lead Disney’s studio business in the region, except for India. Disney’s Luke Kang will continue to lead the North Asia (Greater China, Japan and Korea) business, including direct country management of mainland China and Japan. And Star India regional media networks head K Madhavan will lead the group’s regional channels.
One executive who is departing is Fox Networks Group head of Asia Pacific and Middle East Zubin Gandevia who will “remain for a period of time” to help transition the leadership of media networks in Southeast Asia. Disney’s former head of Malaysia and Singapore, Amit Malhotra, will lead emerging markets and also content sales for Asia Pacific (except North Asia) with a dual reporting to Shankar and Janice Marinelli, who heads Disney’s global content sales and distribution.
Disney’s senior vp and head for the Middle East, Chafic Najia, will be country manager of the Middle East Media cluster.
And Disney’s head of Australia and New Zealand, Kylie Watson-Wheeler, will continue to serve as country manager with direct responsibility for media networks and direct-to-consumer.
As part of the restructuring, Shankar also named functional leads, with Star India’s former CFO Sanjay Jain heading finance, while Star India’s former head of human resources Amita Maheshwari will lead human resources.
In other key positions, Disney India’s assistant general counsel Anju Jain Kumar will be the chief regional counsel for North Asia and Australia/New Zealand. Star India president and general counsel Deepak Jacob will be the chief regional counsel for India, South East Asia and the Middle East. Star India head of business development and acquisitions Prateek Garg will manage Shankar’s office as head of corporate development.
Disney’s vp strategy and business development, Jessica Pouleur, will lead strategy and business development and also take interim responsibility of leading strategy for Southeast Asia. Finally, longtime Star executive Jannie Poon will head corporate communications.
In his memo, Shankar said, “our true strength comes from the quality and diversity of our talent, which combines the best of both Disney and 21st Century Fox. I am privileged to lead a team of such exceptional leaders and congratulate all of them on getting this exciting opportunity to lead this great company to an even greater destiny.”
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