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Softbank Silent on Reports Saying It Has Bid for DreamWorks Animation

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Softbank Silent on Reports Saying It Has Bid for DreamWorks Animation
Japanese telecoms group SoftBank refused to be drawn Monday on reports it is in talks to buy DreamWorks Animation, the biggest independent animated film studio in Hollywood.

"We won't comment on speculations and rumours," a spokesman told AFP.

Softbank has proposed a deal valuing DWA at $3.4 billion, The Hollywood Reporter said.

Under the agreement, DWA founder and CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg would sign a five-year contract to remain with the company, the report in the trade publication said.

It noted that the DWA board held an emergency meeting Thursday to consider the offer, under which SoftBank proposed $32 a share, a significant premium over the stock's value of $22 per share at closing Friday.

DWA was launched as the animation division of DreamWorks Studios, which was started by David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, and then became a public company in 2004. It now releases its movies through 20th Century Fox.

Two of its biggest franchise hits have been the "Shrek" and "How to Train Your Dragon" series.

Buying DreamWorks, which is headed by veteran Hollywood producer and film executive Katzenberg, would make SoftBank the second Japanese technology company to buy a Hollywood studio, following Sony Corp, which purchased Columbia Pictures in 1989.

The Japanese business daily Nikkei said a Softbank official admitted "it is true that there was contact" between the two companies but added the deal is "unlikely" to be reached.

In July, SoftBank hired former Google executive Nikesh Arora as the chief executive of newly created unit SoftBank Internet and Media, stirring speculation the telecom giant could be considering a move to acquire content providers.

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