21st Century Fox said its Indian subsidiary, Star India, is expanding the role of its chief executive Uday Shankar to include chairman, part of a broader reorganization of management as the company strives to hit aggressive profit targets.
Fox has touted its India operations as a promising growth story as investors fret over turbulence in the U.S. media market. At a recent analyst conference, Fox Chief Financial Officer John Nallen reiterated the company’s plan for Star to hit $500 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) by 2018, and $1 billion in Ebitda by 2020.
Star has doubled its market share in India over the last five years to 23%, the highest in India, according to Fox. It has placed particularly big bets on sports, ramping up its portfolio of channels to eight, and digital, where its Hotstar mobile streaming service recently passed 50 million downloads.
The Fox reorganization also elevates Sanjay Gupta, the current chief operating officer, to manager director-Star India and K. Madhavan to managing director-south. Both will report to Mr. Shankar.
Reporting to Mr. Gupta will be four business units, each with a newly elevate CEO: Amit Chopra, CEO of Entertainment; Nitin Kukreja, CEO of Sports, Ajit Mohan, CEO of Digital, Vijay Singh, CEO of Fox STAR Studios. Kevin Vaz, the newly elevated CEO of South, will report to Mr. Madhavan.
“21st Century Fox is uniquely positioned to benefit from a subscription video and advertising market in India that is expected to more than double over the next six years,” said James Murdoch, the chief executive officer of 21st Century Fox. “Uday, Sanjay, Madhavan, and the entire STAR India team have built a world-class business that has grown at double the industry rate and consistently sets the standard for innovation.”
Viacom Inc. and Time Warner Inc. are among other big media companies that have put a premium on growth in India.