Disney buys out India producer UTV

Company is producing Disney-branded pics in the country

Disney has completed its acquisition of a controlling stake in Indian producer UTV via a subsidiary, making it the leading film studio in the subcontinent, producing UTV and Mouse House pics.

The acquisition will be completed through a successful delisting offer on National and Mumbai stock exchanges and will enable Disney to integrate UTV’s current operations.

UTV chief exec Ronnie Screwvala has been named managing director of the Walt Disney Co. India, reporting to Disney Intl. chair Andy Bird.

Last summer, the Mouse House, which was UTV’s majority shareholder with a 50.44% stake, offered 1,000 rupees ($23) per share for the company (Variety, July 26). The final deal was valued at $450 million.

In May, Disney and UTV Motion Pictures announced a pact to co-produce a slate of pics that would be released under the Disney label. Disney and UTV will co-develop the movies, with UTV handling the production, marketing and distribution of the projects in the region.

The leading TV producer in India, UTV has distribution in 20 countries in seven languages and 27 channels. The acquisition helps Disney reach more than 100 million viewers weekly in India. The Mouse already owns India networks Disney Channel, Disney XD and Hungama.

It also gives the company a footprint in digital media with the addition of Indiagames, UTV’s mobile gaming company.

“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 50 million to more than 500 million people by 2025, this market offers huge potential for us to deliver quality branded entertainment to consumers.”

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