Japan's Softbank in talks to buy Hollywood animation studio DreamWorks

Softbank's CEO Masayoshi Son is willing to take a big bet on DreamWorks Animation, which has been valued at $3.4 billion, according to unidentified sources.
By David Sims | Nov 28, 2015
Japanese-based telecommunications company SoftBank is looking to acquire DreamWorks Animation, the Glendale. Calif.-based studio behind animated films such as "Shrek" and "How to Train Your Dragon," according to reports Sept. 27 and Sept. 28 from The Hollywood Reporter (THR) and the Wall Street Journal. The deal could value the animation studio at $3.4 billion, a source told THR.

CNet reported on Sept. 28 that SoftBank and DreamWorks did not respond to a request for comment about buy out plans.

A deal with DreamWorks, if completed, would provide SoftBank with exclusive content and, according to the The Wall Street Journal, provide another possible avenue to challenge Verizon and AT&T. Instead of directly taking on the wireless industry, SoftBank may be trying to boost its arsenal of content providers. Last year, SoftBank paid $1.5 billion for a controlling stake in mobile game developer Supercell, which makes the popular games "Clash of Clans "and "Hay Day".

The Hollywood Reporter has reported that unidentified sources have said that SoftBank had offered $32 per share for DreamWorks, a substantial premium to the stock's Sept. 26 closing price of $22.36.

Buying DreamWorks, which is headed by veteran Hollywood producer and film executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, would make SoftBank the second Japanese technology company to buy a Hollywood studio, following Sony Corp., which bought Columbia Pictures in 1989.

According to a Wall Street Journal, SoftBank likely has money to spend on expansion thanks to an early investment in Alibaba. The Chinese e-commerce giant raised $21.8 billion in its initial public offering (IPO) earlier this month, the largest in U.S. history. Alibaba's IPO netted SoftBank nearly $5 billion for its 32 percent stake in the company, and is now Alibaba's biggest shareholder.

The move by SoftBank comes as Alibaba is also looking to expand its video content offered through a set-top box in China.



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