Walt Disney rejigs Asia structure, Mahesh Samat made MD of South Asia hub

MUMBAI: Walt Disney International (a part of The Walt Disney Company) has announced a new Asia management structure, which will see the creation of North Asia and South Asia regional hubs.

The South Asia hub merges India with the company’s integrated South East Asian regional markets of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. It will be under the leadership of Mahesh Samat, who has been appointed as senior vice president and managing director of Walt Disney International, South Asia.

North Asia will merge Japan, South Korea and Greater China under the leadership of Luke Kang, who has been appointed as executive vice president and managing director of Walt Disney International, North Asia.

Kang and Samat will report directly to Walt Disney International chairman Andy Bird.

Bird said, “Our international leadership teams are tasked to increase Disney brand affinity and awareness in key markets around the world. This new structure aligns and maximises efficiencies around regions with similar opportunities and creates the momentum to accelerate growth for the company in these markets.

“Luke and Mahesh have an acute understanding of our brands and franchises and long-standing expertise in our broader operations. This, combined with their understanding of the uniqueness of their markets, and intense entrepreneurial spirit, will continue the momentum we are experiencing in these dynamic regions.”

Samat returned to lead The Walt Disney Company India in November 2016, a position he previously held from 2008 to 2012. Since returning to the role, he has implemented vast organisational changes, creating a clear strategy for the company and its brands in the Indian entertainment market. Samat also has more than 25 years of experience in FMCG and healthcare across India, Asia-Pacific and Europe.

“The South East Asian region is characterised by its dynamic growth and extreme diversity. I am pleased to have the opportunity to lead both teams to create new, innovative ways for audiences to engage with our stories, brands and characters, and drive growth across our businesses,” Samat stated.

In his current capacity as The Walt Disney Company Greater China MD, Kang has led the organisation (excluding Disney’s Parks and Resorts division) to achieve consistent record growth across all business segments. In 2016, Disney was the number one foreign studio at the Chinese box office, and the organisation also successfully expanded its reach into new cities and to new consumer groups across China. Throughout his career, Kang held various management roles across the region.

“It is an honor to lead Walt Disney International in North Asia, which includes two of the biggest and most dynamic economies in the world. The region’s ever-changing media and entertainment landscape as well as dynamic consumer products market provides incredible opportunity to continue to forge connections with our brands and franchises to drive growth,” Kang commented.

With operations in 45 countries throughout the world, Walt Disney International has implemented integrated structures in international markets that have accelerated revenue in China, produced growth across Japan and Europe, and provided unparalleled access to emerging markets throughout Latin America and South East Asia.