Former Disney India head Mahesh Samat has been re-appointed as the managing director of The Walt Disney Company India. Earlier the post was taken care by Siddharth Roy Kapur, who is now departing the company for his own business interest. Samat left Disney India around four years ago and went to establish Epic Television Networks. He was the founder and managing director of The Epic Channel, a Hindi entertainment channel which is focused on history, folklore and mythology-based content. Except ESPN, he will take care of all the local business segments. Samat will be based out of Mumbai and will directly report to Andy Bird. He will take over his charges from November 28.
“Mahesh guided Disney in India in its early days, and we are thrilled with his decision to return to the organisation he helped build. We are encouraged by the opportunity we see to further grow our business in India and believe 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,” Andy Bird, chairman, Walt Disney International said commenting on the development.
Here is the full letter Andy Bird wrote to the team:
One of the great satisfactions about working at Disney is the opportunity I have to work alongside diverse, talented and ambitious teams. Almost 12 months ago Sid spoke to me about the future and his personal ambition to start his own business and with that in mind he decided not to renew his contract that ends this December. As a result of that conversation, we put in place a succession plan aimed at finding the right leader to take over, and guarantee a smooth transition.
As you know, Siddharth is a pillar of the Indian entertainment industry and has been an admirable leader for our organization. He demonstrated passion and commitment for the Disney business. He has built a team that has carved a strong position for Disney in the Indian media and entertainment space that positions us well for the future.
Under Sid’s leadership since 2014, awareness and affinity for the Disney brand has increased substantially. The team released India’s Highest Grossing Movie of All Time (PK) and India’s highest grossing Hollywood movie of All Time (The Jungle Book); consolidated its position as the No.1 Kids television network in the country; has grown the consumer products business, emerging as India’s largest branded licensor of consumer products; and finally, pioneered a new format of entertainment in the country by producing Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, the first-ever Broadway-scale theatrical show to be mounted in India with a completely local cast and crew. We are immensely thankful of his service and wish him well in his next venture.
It gives me great pleasure to announce that Mahesh Samat will return to his leadership role of The Walt Disney Company India as Managing Director, a role he held between 2008 and 2012. Mahesh will resume management of all Disney businesses in India (except ESPN), with all local business segments reporting into him. Mahesh’s entrepreneurial spirit, extensive knowledge of our brands and franchises, and long-standing expertise in our broader operations will provide a seamless transition and continue the momentum we are experiencing in India.
Mahesh left Disney in India four years ago to establish Epic Television Networks. He created The Epic Channel, a popular Hindi entertainment channel focused on history, folklore and mythology-based content, which is a personal interest of Mahesh’s.
Mahesh will be responsible for setting and driving Company strategy, coordinating all business efforts in India including overseeing Disney global franchises in the market, expanding existing businesses, and creating new business opportunities.
Today, Sid and Mahesh met with the management team to thank Sid and welcome Mahesh, who starts formally in the role on November 28th and will report to me. I trust you will give him your full support and work together to continue to grow our business in India.
Chairman, Walt Disney International