DreamWorks Animation could potentially be sold off to Japan’s leading telecommunications and internet service provider SoftBank for a reported $3.5 billion sum.
The animations branch of the company, run by former Walt Disney Studios Chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, has been searching for a potential buyer for over a year now.
The failure of initial talks with the likes of NBCUniversal were attributed to Katzenberg’s high valuation of the company, which he believed could fetch a price tag to rival that of its biggest rival Pixar – Disney bought the CG animations giant for $7.4 billion in 2006.
The company has also had a lack of success with its output in recent years. The failure of its usual family friendly fare such as Turbo, The Last of the Guardians and (its biggest bomb) Mr Peabody and Sherman hint at troubled times for DreamWorks. It’s a far cry from when it was producing one of the biggest franchises in Hollywood in the form of the Shrek series of films.
As a result, DreamWorks Animation has reported two straight quarters of losses.
A potential deal with SoftBank should not come as a surprise then. Although, it should be noted that the Japanese firm is only bidding for the Animation branch of DreamWorks, and not Steven Spielberg’s independently operated DreamWorks Studios.
SoftBank on the other hand seems keen to make its entrance into the US (and global) entertainment media market – having previously sought an unsuccessful acquisition of the universal Music Group. The firm also hired former Google CBO Nikesh Arora as head of its media arm.
If the deal does go through, SoftBank will no doubt own (and operate) a blockbuster enterprise. Despite its recent trouble at the multiplex, DreamWorks Animation has also claimed a stake in television production, online entertainment (through its acquisition of Awesomeness TV) and consumer products in China. The latter currently has an insatiable appetite for US blockbuster entertainment.
DreamWorks Animation has yet to confirm the speculation regarding its buyout.