Star India Tweaks Ops for Next Phase of Growth
Uday Shankar elevated as chairman; five sub-business units created with different CEOs for each
Mumbai: Star India, the largest broadcaster in the country, has restructured its operations and created five sub-business units with different CEOs for each to speed up decision making with an eye on the next phase of growth and profitability. Uday Shankar, who has spearheaded the Star business in India as CEO for the last 10 years, has been promoted as chairman and CEO, while Sanjay Gupta, currently the chief operating officer (COO), has been promoted as the company’s managing director. Asianet managing director K Madhavan will now oversee all the south India business as MD – south, company officials said.
“Star India has grown at such a fast clip that we realised we cannot run it like one company anymore; we needed a more robust and agile organisation to continue changing the game,” Shankar said. “We need to create deeper benches of talent who can take charge. It’s been my endeavour to promote and not constraint the entrepreneurship,” Shankar told ET.
The five sub-business units under the new structure are — entertainment, sports, digital business, motion pictures, and south. The entertainment unit will be headed by Amit Chopra as CEO with a mandate to lead the general entertainment and movie channels across Hindi, English, Bengali and Marathi clusters.
Senior executives Nitin Kukreja and Ajit Mohan will continue to head sports and digital businesses, respectively, having been elevated as chief executives of their verticals. Vijay Singh will continue to lead the motion pictures business as CEO of Fox Star Studios. All these four CEOs will report to Gupta. Kevin Vaz, who was heading Hindi and Bengali clusters, has been promoted as CEO – south and will report to Madhavan. Both Gupta and Madhavan will continue to report to Shankar. Star India will also set up a pan-India content studio under Gaurav Banerjee, who will report to Gupta. The company announced the restructuring to its employees on Wednesday in a town hall meeting where all the 138 offices of Star India were linked via video conferencing. Shankar told employees that from a .₹ 1,700 crore company in 2008, Star India will become a company in 2016.
Shankar told ET that the restructuring and realignment was needed as Star has seen aggressive growth in the last 7-8 years across, not just in entertainment but also in regional, sports and digital. It has become India’s leading broadcaster, rea- .₹ 10,800 crore ching approximately 650 million viewers a month across the country. Star India has also established a sizeable global footprint that spans more than 100 other countries.
While putting in place the growth drivers of future like digital, regional, and sports, Shankar has also taken tough portfolio decisions by exiting news, cable and home shopping businesses.
Select strategic acquisitions like Andhra Pradesh-based Maa TV Network’s television business and Asianet Communications in Kerala have helped fill in the gaps in the Star India portfolio.
“I see huge headroom for growth in each of the verticals. There is enormous growth opportunity, which lies untapped. Our investments in sports, in (digital video and live streaming service) Hotstar and in recent acquisition of broadcast business of Maa TV Network are long term bets. We believe in investing and scaling up business to a certain size so that when they start making money, it’s substantial,” Shankar said.
After a period of investment-led growth, the restructuring is expected to help the verticals focus on profitable growth and meet aggressive targets set by owner Rupert Murdoch. EBITDA from the entertainment business is expected to cross $300 million in the current fiscal (July 2015-June 2016).