Business / Corporate

SoftBank rumored to be in talks to buy DreamWorks

Reuters

SoftBank Corp. is in talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation SKG, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

Buying DreamWorks would make the Hollywood studio that created “Shrek” part of SoftBank’s communications and media empire that, under founder Masayoshi Son, has shown a willingness to take big bets on combining seemingly unrelated businesses.

The acquisition talks were first reported by the Hollywood Reporter, which quoted an unidentified source as saying an acquisition would value DreamWorks at $3.4 billion. The entertainment trade publication said SoftBank had offered $32 per share for DreamWorks.

Its stock closed at $22.36 on Friday.

Last week, SoftBank booked a $4.6 billion gain on the share listing of Alibaba Group in New York. It retains a 32 percent stake in the Chinese e-commerce company, making it Alibaba’s biggest shareholder. SoftBank has significant stakes in other large listed entities, including U.S. mobile carrier Sprint, Internet portal Yahoo Japan and online games maker GungHo Online Entertainment.

A SoftBank spokesman said the company had no comment on the reported talks and a DreamWorks representative could not be immediately reached for comment.

DreamWorks, based in Glendale, California, has seen its share price drop 37 percent this year after two consecutive quarterly losses, a string of weak-performing releases such as “How To Train Your Dragon 2,” and investor concern about the production costs of its movies. In July, DreamWorks said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating a writedown it took at the end of 2013 on the animated flop “Turbo.”

Dreamworks Animation was spun off from DreamWorks Studios in 2004 as a separate listed company. The earlier Dreamworks studio had been founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, who moved with the spinoff and remains head of the animation firm.

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