Star In­dia Tweaks Ops for Next Phase of Growth

Uday Shankar el­e­vated as chair­man; five sub-busi­ness units cre­ated with dif­fer­ent CEOs for each

The Economic Times - - Business Of Brands - Gau­rav.Laghate@ times­

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).


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