Comcast in Talks to Buy DreamWorks Animation for Over $3 Billion

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Jeffrey Katzenberg might have finally found a buyer for his DreamWorks Animation.

The Glendale animation company is in talks with Comcast to be sold for more than $3 billion, sources confirm to The Hollywood Reporter.

The potential acquisition would fold DWA into an entertainment conglomerate that controls key properties such as NBC, Telemundo, the USA network and Universal Studios. It also would be a strong fit for DWA, which has 19 animated television shows in production alongside blockbuster film franchises like Kung Fu Panda and Shrek.

The move would provide Katzenberg, CEO of the animation company, with a strong buyer after years of searching. In November, he held advanced talks with toymaker Hasbro about a possible tie-up after months earlier holding a round of discussions with Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank. The mogul also has courted everyone from 20th Century Fox to various Chinese companies.

DWA declined to comment on the news, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, and a spokesperson for NBC Universal/Comcast also declined to comment.

A $3 billion offer would offer a decent premium for shareholders who have invested in a company presently worth $2.3 billion.

It was not clear if Katzenberg would maintain a role in running the studio he helped to form in 1997 under parent company DreamWorks SKG, which he created five years earlier along with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. The animation studio was spun off as a separate company in 2004, with Katzenberg at the helm.

The studio currently has a distribution deal with 20th Century Fox that runs out at the end of 2017. So, any link-up with Comcast’s Universal would be timely. The bid also comes several months after Spielberg’s reinvigorated DreamWorks Studios — now called Amblin Partners — signed a sweeping distribution deal with Universal.

Buying DWA would give Universal two of Hollywood’s leading animation studios, since it already owns Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment, home of the blockbuster Minions franchise. With both DWA and Illumination in-house, Universal could challenge Disney’s animation powerhouse combination of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios.

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SOURCE: TIME; The Hollywood Reporter, Gregg Kilday

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