Disney Gives Leadership Roles to Several Fox Staffers in Asia Reshuffle

The Walt Disney Company, whose acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets was finalized last month, is to keep several prominent Fox staff members in leading roles across Asia. However, at least one senior Fox executive in Asia is departing amid the restructuring.

The decision to keep on multiple Fox executives appears to follow the logic that Fox is the dominant pay-TV group in Asia, and that a drastic management overhaul would not help it at a time when TV is facing a growing challenge from streaming platforms.

Disney had announced several months ago that Uday Shankar, who previously ran Fox’s market-leading Star TV group in India, would be the new boss in the region once the Disney-Fox merger was completed. In a memo to staff Monday, Shankar announced new business leads and country managers.

Among the Fox executives staying on are Star Regional Media Networks’ K Madhavan, who will lead Star India’s regional language channels, and Kurt Rieder, who will lead the studio business in Asia, except for India. Rieder’s boss at Fox, head of international distribution Andrew Cripps, was let go in the first wave of layoffs last month.

Popular on Variety

Disney’s Luke Kang will continue to lead the North Asia grouping of Greater China, Japan and Korea, and will have direct country management of mainland China and Japan.

But Zubin Gandevia, who for several years has been head of Fox Networks Group in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, becomes the most senior Fox executive in Asia to depart the new post-merger company. As a signal of Fox Networks Group’s significance, Gandevia is being kept on for a transition period in Southeast Asia.

In his memo, Shankar also confirmed seven functional leads, ranging from finance and human resources to corporate communication.

“It is a momentous opportunity to be able to chart the course of The Walt Disney Company in Asia Pacific and Middle East,” Shankar wrote. “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. My endeavor is to build an organization that enables us to take full advantage of this unique opportunity and capitalize on the potential of the great leadership talent that we have in the region.

“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.”

Business leads and country managers in the new structure include:

– Sanjay Gupta, formerly head of Fox’s Star, will be country manager of India and will also have direct responsibility for the studio business in the country.

– Amit Malhotra, formerly head of Malaysia and Singapore at Disney, will lead emerging markets. He will also lead content sales for APAC (except North Asia). In addition to reporting to Shankar, he will report to Janice Marinelli, president of global content sales and distribution for Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International.

– Disney SVP Chafic Najia will be country manager of the Middle East Media cluster.

– Disney’s Kylie Watson-Wheeler will continue to serve as country manager of Australia and New Zealand, with direct responsibility for media networks and direct-to-consumer.

Functional leads in the new structure include:

– Sanjay Jain, former CFO at Fox’s Star, will lead finance.

– Amita Maheshwari, former head of HR at Star, will lead human resources.

– Anju Jain Kumar, from Disney, will be the chief regional counsel for North Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

– Deepak Jacob, from Star’s legal department, will be the chief regional counsel for India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

– Prateek Garg, previously head of business development and acquisitions at Star, will manage Shankar’s office as head of corporate development.

– Jessica Pouleur, currently VP of strategy and business development at The Walt Disney Company, will lead strategy and business development. She will also take interim responsibility of leading strategy for Southeast Asia.

– Jannie Poon, SVP of corporate affairs and communications at 21st Century Fox,  will head corporate communications.