Disney acquires majority stake in UTV

The Walt Disney Company has obtained a controlling stake in UTV including the media firm’s games publishing arm UTV Ignition.

Disney will be complete the acquisition shortly via a delisting action which will see UTV’s shares removed from local stock exchanges. It will start this process from February 6th, according to an announcement in The Economic Times newspaper, reports Reuters.

Disney has received shares below 1,100 rupees and says it’s possible it will take at least a 90 per cent stake in UTV.

As part of the deal, Disney will integrate UTV’s current operations, with UTV CEO Ronnie Screwvala named MD of The Walt Disney Company India. He will report to Walt Disney International chairman Andy Bird.

Disney will also receive UTV’s Indiagames, the country’s No.1 mobile games company, as well as UTV Ignition, which has published boxed games such as El Shaddai over the past 12 months.

"This acquisition expands our footprint significantly and allows us to more effectively build, monetise and brand multiplatform franchises, and deliver a rich library of content to the world’s second largest population," said Bird.

"We couldn’t be more pleased that Ronnie, with his vast experience and proven track record, will now run our operations in India. Under his leadership, we will be able to deliver more programming on more platforms to this considerable audience."

Screwvala added: "In combining the creative capabilities of each company we will integrate a large stable of vibrant brands and franchises in the branded entertainment space," said Mr. Screwvala. "With the middle class expected to grow from 50m to more than 500m people by 2025, this market offers huge potential for us to deliver quality branded entertainment to consumers.”

UTV is India’s leading TV producer and fastest cable network with distribution in 20 countries across 27 channels. This will help Disney reach over 100m viewers each week.

Disney already own India TV networks Disney Channel, Disney XD and Hungama in India. It launched popular kids’ game Club Penguin in India in 2010.

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