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Global entertainment giant Walt Disney International on Tuesday announced that Mahesh Samat will return to head its India operations, The Walt Disney Company India, as its managing director. Samat, who succeeds Siddharth Roy Kapur, will resume management of all Disney businesses in India (except ESPN), with all local business segments reporting into him.
According to a company statement, Roy Kapur is departing to explore his own business interests. “Sid [Siddharth Roy Kapur] is a pillar of the Indian entertainment industry and has demonstrated passion and commitment for the Disney business. He carved a strong position for Disney in the Indian media and entertainment space that positions us well for the future. We are immensely thankful for his service and wish him well in his next venture,” said Andy Bird, chairman, Walt Disney International.
It might be recalled that earlier this year, Disney India, which owns UTV Motion Pictures, said that it would only focus on its Hollywood films distribution, television and licensing and merchandising businesses, thereby discontinuing its Hindi film production business. The decision was made on the back of losses faced due to the failure of Disney-produced films like Fitoor and Mohenjo Daro. Following this announcement, talks of a change in leadership were also doing the rounds.
“Mahesh [Samat] guided Disney in India in its early days, and we are thrilled with his decision to return to the organisation he helped build,” said Bird adding, “Mahesh’s entrepreneurial spirit, knowledge of our brands and franchises, and long-standing expertise in our broader operations will continue the momentum we are experiencing in this dynamic market.”
Samat had quit Disney India four years ago to establish Epic Television Networks and is the founder and managing director of Hindi entertainment channel Epic.
Starting November 28, Samat will be responsible for setting and driving The Walt Disney Company’s strategy, coordinating all business efforts in India including overseeing Disney’s global franchises in the market, expanding existing businesses, and creating new business opportunities and will report directly to Bird.
Samat says he is excited to return to Disney. “Moving forward, we’ll accelerate the great work done by the team and create new, innovative ways for audiences to engage with our stories, brands and characters, and drive growth across our businesses,” he adds.