Disney India Chief Ronnie Screwvala to Step Down

The Walt Disney Co India
Ronnie Screwvala

He will be replaced at the start of 2014 by Siddharth Roy Kapur, currently second in command at Disney UTV.

Disney UTV announced Thursday that managing director Ronnie Screwvala will step down as of Jan. 1, 2014. He will be replaced in the role as the company's top executive by Siddharth Roy Kapur, now second in command as managing director of its studios business.

Screwvala will stay on in an advisory capacity until June, to help ensure a smooth transition, Disney said.

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"In 2012 when we acquired UTV, Ronnie had a clear mandate to merge two organizations, 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,” said Andy Bird, chairman of Walt Disney International, of Screwvala’s tenure. “Ronnie has successfully managed integration efforts and set the foundations of long term growth for our business."

Screwvala founded UTV as a humble cable distribution venture in 1981 and transformed the company into the multi-media conglomerate. Walt Disney Co. first picked up a minority 15 percent stake in UTV in 2006 for about $15 million, and then acquired a controlling stake last year for a reported $454 million.

With a core strength in content creation, from daily soaps to kids' programming, UTV has diversified into films over the last decade, producing a slew of Bollywood hits, such as India's 2012 Oscar entry Barfi! and Kai Po Che, which premiered at this year's Berlin Film Festival. 

“It’s been a fantastic seven-year working relationship with Disney, first as a co- shareholder, then when Disney held a majority stake in UTV, and since February 2012,” said Screwvala in a statement. 

It’s understood that he is leaving to explore entrepreneurial interests in India and to spend more time with his humanitarian foundation, SWADES.

Kapur began his career at Procter & Gamble, before working with STAR TV in Hong Kong, Dubai and Mumbai. He’s put in eight years at UTV and Disney UTV. He was involved in the launch of kids channel Hungama TV -- acquired by Disney in 2006 -- and has run UTV’s motion pictures business since 2008.

“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," said Kapur.