DreamWorks Animation, the studio owned by film executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, may have unexpectedly found a buyer in Japan’s SoftBank.
SoftBank, the telecommunications company owned by billionaire Masayoshi Son, offered $32 per share for DreamWorks, a 43% premium to the stock’s closing price Friday, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The DreamWorks board held an emergency meeting last week to consider the $3.4 billion bid, though no official decision has yet to be made.
At this stage, SoftBank is only in talks with the animation company. The deal has not been formally considered by senior executives and at this point is unlikely to be finalized, sources told Bloomberg News.
DreamWorks CEO Katzenberg had previously looked for a buyer for the animation studio. His company has struggled at the box-office in recent years, losing money on such offerings as “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” which required a $57 million write down. To try to cover losses on the film side, Katzenberg has invested heavily in the television business, including purchasing online video network Awesomeness TV.
SoftBank has significant financial stores to afford the purchase, especially after Alibaba Group went public on Sept. 19. The company holds more than 30% of Alibaba’s shares, which have a market value worth more than $70 billion.
The Japanese telecommunications company has been looking to expand in U.S. media and technology sectors. SoftBank failed to close the deal on its offer to buy T-Mobile US because of regulatory conflicts.
DreamWorks recent expansion into China could make the studio more valuable to SoftBank, especially given its close ties to Alibaba.
Katzenberg helped create Oriental DreamWorks in 2012 in partnership with two other Chinese media companies. The China-based studio produces local-language animation and will co-produce “Kung Fu Panda 3″ in partnership with U.S. DreamWorks.
Alibaba has invested in media assets, including China’s largest online video site Youku Tudou, and is developing a streaming service with California-based Lions Gate.
Katzenberg would likely stay on with DreamWorks. Hollywood Reporter says he would stay for five years to head the studio after an acquisition by SoftBank.
This article originally appeared on Fortune.com
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