On Saturday, it was announced that DreamWorks Animation was in discussions with a Japanese Company, SoftBank.
It was rumored that these discussions were primarily about SoftBank purchasing the animation studio. However, DreamWorks has yet to speak about the possible negotiations, saying, “We don’t comment on rumors and speculation.”
For those of you who don’t know (including this writer up until ten minutes ago), SoftBank is a telecommunications and Internet company. To put it simply, this conglomerate is rich; being 135th on Fortune’s 2013 Global 500 list. SoftBank has a huge stake in the US phone company US Sprint Nextel, and also owns a third of a Chinese internet company, Alibaba Group, along with stakes in a variety of companies that specialize in gaming, finances, and data center operations.
So what do we know about this possibility if DreamWorks has so far refused to comment?
SoftBank has in fact, offered $3.4 billion for DreamWorks, which is $32 a share. This is significantly more than what DreamWorks is currently worth at market value. Last week, the animation studio was worth $1.89 billion at $22 a share.
Financial analyst Atul Goyal explained SoftBank’s interest in DreamWorks:
“Such a deal would make sense for SoftBank because it would help the company expand its offering of media content, which now features mostly mobile games. As growth in smartphone penetration slows, mobile network operators like SoftBank, which owns one of the three main cellular carriers in Japan as well as Sprint Corp. in the U.S., will rely increasingly on content to attract customers.”
Who really knows though if the deal will go through? DreamWorks has a highly risky business model, and with three write-downs in the past two years, who knows what the company wants to do? DreamWorks is already sending many of their jobs oversees, so that is unlikely to be impacted if they are bought out. And would DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg even go for such a deal? He has stated in the past that he thinks that DreamWorks is worth at least as much as Pixar, which was purchased by Disney for $7.4 billion back in 2006, but times have changed since then, and Katzenberg has even looked into the idea of selling DreamWorks in the past.
However things work out, hopefully DreamWorks will continue to make the films that we all love so much. SoftBank has shown in the past that it can be hands-on with some of their bigger companies such as Sprint, and more hands-off with it’s creative investments like Supercell.