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Walt Disney to acquire UTV; Ronnie Screwvala to be MD of Walt Disney India

The acquisition to cost Rs.2,000 crore, one of the largest deals in the Indian media industry.

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | July 27, 2011

Walt Disney Co. has initiated to take full control of India's UTV Software Communications Ltd. and delist the company from BSE and NSE, as the U.S. entertainment giant seeks to expand in the South Asian nation's fast-growing media industry.

UTV Software said its board approved a proposal from Walt Disney, which held 50.44% of the Indian media company's 40.6 million outstanding shares as of June 30, to buy out other shareholders for a maximum price of 1,000 rupees ($22.57) a share.

The deal, potentially valued at Rs.2014 crore ($454.62 million), is said to be one of the largest in the Indian media industry.

In a separate statement, Walt Disney said delisting a company in India is a long process that could take several months. "Given the multiple stages and the nature of the process, a successful outcome is uncertain," the company said.

UTV's founder group--R.S. Promoters, including Rohinton Screwvala, Unilazer Exports and Management Consultants Ltd., Unilazer Ltd. and Zarina Mehta--holds 19.8% of the company, while the remainder is with public shareholders.

UTV said in a statement that Disney will first buy out the public holders then the founder group at the same price. It plans to eventually delist the firm from the National Stock Exchange and Bombay Stock Exchange.

After delisting, Screwvala, UTV's chief executive, will head Walt Disney Co. India Pvt. Ltd. as managing director.

Mahesh Samat, currently managing Disney's assets in India, will become chief operating officer, reporting to Screwvala, Walt Disney said.

If the delisting is unsuccessful, Disney may "evaluate all potential strategies and opportunities" in relation to its investment in UTV Software, the Indian company said, without elaborating.

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