Japan's SoftBank in talks to buy DreamWorks: source

Sun Sep 28, 2014 2:46am EDT
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By Kevin Krolicki and Paritosh Bansal

TOKYO/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Japan's SoftBank Corp (9984.T: Quote) is in talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation SKG DWA.O, the Hollywood studio behind the "Shrek" and "Madagascar" movie hits, a person with knowledge of the situation said.

An acquisition of DreamWorks by SoftBank would make it part of a cash-rich Japanese communications and media company that, under founder and chief executive Masayoshi Son, has shown a willingness to take big bets on combining disparate businesses.

The talks were first reported by the Hollywood Reporter, which quoted an unidentified source as saying a buyout would value DreamWorks at $3.4 billion.

The entertainment trade publication said SoftBank had offered $32 per share for DreamWorks, a substantial premium to the stock's Friday 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 (6758.T: Quote), which bought Columbia Pictures in 1989.

SoftBank has recently cashed in on a share of its investment in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and dropped its pursuit of mobile carrier T-Mobile US TMUS.N in the face of opposition from anti-trust regulators in the United States.

Last week, SoftBank booked a $4.6 billion gain on the share listing of Alibaba Group in New York (BABA.N: Quote). SoftBank retains a 32 percent stake, making it Alibaba's biggest shareholder.

SoftBank has significant stakes in other large listed entities, including U.S. mobile carrier Sprint (S.N: Quote), through which it had pursued a deal for T-Mobile, internet portal Yahoo Japan (4689.T: Quote) and online games maker GungHo Online Entertainment (3765.T: Quote).   Continued...

A man holding an umbrella walks past the logo of Softbank Corp at its branch in Tokyo April 22, 2014.  REUTERS/Yuya Shino