DreamWorks competes with Disney

Animation studio Dreamworks sold for $ 3.8 billion

The US cable giant Comcast swallows Dreamworks Animation. Hits like "Madagascar", "Shrek" and "Kung Fu Panda" come from the animation studio.

Comcast takes over the animation studio Dreamworks Animation. The US cable giant swallows the company behind blockbuster hits like "Madagascar", "Shrek" or "Kung Fu Panda" for 41 dollars per share in cash, as the Comcast subsidiary NBC Universal announced on Thursday. The deal has a volume of around 3.8 billion dollars (3.4 billion euros).

Comcast is paying a lot for the acquisition: On the stock exchange, Dreamworks Animation only brought it to around 2.3 billion dollars before the first takeover rumors made the rounds. The "Wall Street Journal" had already reported on Tuesday evening about a purchase price of more than three billion dollars.

Comcast already has an animation subsidiary

Comcast's Hollywood studio Universal already has its own animation subsidiary with the Illumination Entertainment division, which recently achieved great success with "Despicable Me" and "Minions". "Dreamworks Animation is a great addition," said NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke.

With the characters from Dreamworks Animation, Comcast could make its amusement parks more attractive and earn money on fan merchandise, following the example of Disney. The merger is expected to be completed by the end of 2016. It has yet to be approved by the competition officials.

Attack on Disney

With the deal, Comcast is attacking the industry heavyweight Disney, which is making billions not only with blockbusters, but also with the associated fan merchandise. The Mickey Mouse Group, which achieved huge success with the latest "Star Wars" film, is still making good profits from its merchandise years after blockbuster hits like "The Ice Queen". In addition, Disney theme parks wash a lot of money into the till.

This strategy also appeals to Comcast. With the characters from Dreamworks Animation, the group wants to make its amusement parks more attractive and benefit from fan merchandise, based on the Disney model. The acquisition will help these businesses to grow "over the years," said NBC Universal boss Burke. The merger should be completed by the end of the year, the competition watchdogs still have to approve.

Dreamworks struggled with problems

Dreamworks recently had financial problems. Most recently, however, there have been several box office failures. Film production was therefore reduced for 2016, instead of three films as planned, only two films were produced and 500 employees were laid off. The company's boss is Jeffrey Katzenberg, who founded the studio together with director Steven Spielberg and record company boss David Geffen in 1994.

According to media reports, there have already been sales talks with the toy manufacturer Hasbro, the Japanese telecom group SoftBank and interested parties from China. Most recently, the studio found a new long-term source of money with a multi-year deal to produce series for the online video service Netflix.

(APA / dpa)