DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. is in discussions to be acquired by a Japanese telecommunications and Internet company in a deal valued at $3.4 billion, according to weekend media reports.
The Glendale animation studio is being offered $32 a share from SoftBank Corp, in Tokyo, a 43 percent increase over the $22.36 share price at closing on Friday, according to a story first reported by entertainment trade publication Hollywood Reporter.
The DreamWorks board met on Thursday night to discuss the offer. Co-founder and Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg would sign a five-year contract to stay with the company.
DreamWorks has declined to comment on the reports.
SoftBank was established in 1981 and is a majority owner in U.S. telecom company Sprint Nextel Corp., and has e-commerce, technology services, media and marketing businesses. It recently dropped a bid to buy cellular telephone company T-Mobile amid opposition from regulators.
The potential sale follows DreamWorks’ recent box office hit “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” but previously the studio had a string of box office bombs that prompted write-downs, layoffs and a decline in the stock price, which topped $35 a share last December.
The studio has taken a total of $158 million in write-downs on the 2014 release “Mr. Peabody and Sherman," the 2013 release “Turbo” and 2012’s “Rise of the Guardians.”
However, the studio also has moved aggressively to diversify its business, producing animated shows exclusively for Netflix Inc. and acquiring YouTube network AwesomenessTV. It also formed a joint venture with three Chinese companies to build the Dream Center entertainment and cultural complex in Shanghai, where it is collaborating on a film studio, new media and consumer products.
DreamWorks Animation was founded in 1994 as the animation portion of the DreamWorks studio started by Katzenberg, film director Steven Spielberg and media mogul David Geffen. The studio found first success with the green ogre Shrek in a series of films. Later successful franchises included “Madagascar,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “How to Train Your Dragon.”
The company was spun off in 2004 and distributes its films through 20th Century Fox. Despite its recent troubles, DreamWorks has become a significant Hollywood studio, reporting just over $700 million revenue last year. It recorded a $15.4 million loss in the second quarter.