Monday 5 December 2016

Comcast dreaming of $3bn takeover of maker of Shrek and Kung Fu Panda

Published 28/04/2016 | 02:30

Kung Fu Panda 3
Kung Fu Panda 3

DreamWorks Animation, maker of the 'Shrek' and 'Kung Fu Panda' movies, above, is in talks to be sold to Universal Pictures parent Comcast for more than $3bn, the 'Wall Street Journal' reported.

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The animation studio, one of the few independent players left in Hollywood, would remain a separate brand from Universal's Illumination Entertainment, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified sources. DreamWorks Animation, run by founder and chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, jumped as much 25pc in early New York trading yesterday. Adding DreamWorks Animation would bolster Comcast's children's lineup and bring online assets like Awesomeness TV, which targets millennials on YouTube.

For Katzenberg, who has tried to sell DreamWorks Animation before, Comcast offers protection from the ups and downs of a small studio with a stock price dependent on box-office hits.

"Animation in terms of content is very valuable and Dreamworks has been underperforming for a number of years," said Neil Campling, a media analyst at Aviate Global in London. "This isn't the first time we've heard suggestions of it being for sale."

Dan Berger, a spokesman for DreamWorks Animation, declined to comment. Representatives for Comcast weren't available to comment.

DreamWorks Animation advanced to as high as $34 in early trading in New York. The shares were little changed at $27.12 on Tuesday, before the talks were reported, giving the company a market value of $2.3bn. Comcast was little changed.

Comcast would make an ideal parent for Dreamworks, especially with its ownership of Illumination, maker of hit films 'Minions' and 'Despicable Me', Neil Campling said. He rates Illumination as the No. 3 animation studio behind Disney and Pixar.

Katzenberg has been expanding the TV business at DreamWorks Animation, selling films and cartoon series like 'The Adventures of Puss in Boots' to Netflix as he seeks to break a dependence on the box office.

ANOUSHA SAKOUI/BLOOMBERG

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