Confirming recent speculation, NBCUniversal is to acquire DreamWorks Animation, the creator of animated feature films, TV series, live entertainment and related consumer products in a deal valued at $3.8 billion (€3.5bn). The studio will become part of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, which includes Universal Pictures, Fandango, and NBCUniversal Brand Development.
“DreamWorks Animation is a great addition to NBCUniversal,” said Steve Burke, CEO of NBCUniversal. “Jeffrey Katzenberg and the DreamWorks organisation have created a dynamic film brand and a deep library of intellectual property. DreamWorks will help us grow our film, television, theme parks and consumer products businesses for years to come. We have enjoyed extraordinary success over the last six years in animation with the emergence of Illumination Entertainment and its brilliant team at Illumination Mac Guff studio. The prospects for our future together are tremendous. We are fortunate to have Illumination founder Chris Meledandri to help guide the growth of the DreamWorks Animation business in the future.”
Under the terms of the agreement, DreamWorks Animation has an equity value of approximately $3.8 billion. DreamWorks Animation stockholders will receive $41 in cash for each share of DreamWorks Animation common stock. The agreement has been approved by the boards of directors of DreamWorks Animation and Comcast, and the controlling shareholder of DreamWorks Animation has approved the agreement by written consent.
The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2016, subject to antitrust approvals in the US and abroad, as well as the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.
Following the completion of the transaction, DreamWorks Animation CEO and co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg will become Chairman of DreamWorks New Media, which will be comprised of the company’s ownership interests in Awesomeness TV and NOVA. Katzenberg will also serve as a consultant to NBCUniversal.
“Having spent the past two decades working together with our team to build DreamWorks Animation into one of the world’s most beloved brands, I am proud to say that NBCUniversal is the perfect home for our company; a home that will embrace the legacy of our storytelling and grow our businesses to their fullest potential,” said Katzenberg. “This agreement not only delivers significant value for our shareholders, but also supports NBCUniversal’s growing family entertainment business. As for my role, I am incredibly excited to continue exploring the potential of AwesomenessTV, NOVA and other new media opportunities, and can’t wait to get started.”
The acquisition gives NBCUniversal broader reach to a host of new audiences in the highly competitive kids and family entertainment space, in both TV and film. It includes popular DreamWorks Animation film franchise properties, such as Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon. It also includes a thriving TV operation that is a significant supplier of family programming, with hundreds of hours of original, animated content distributed across linear and SVoD platforms in more than 130 countries. Additionally, DreamWorks Classics, a large library of classic characters, including Where’s Waldo, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, will become part of the NBCUniversal portfolio, along with a successful consumer products business.