Comcast is buying DreamWorks Animation, the film company behind the Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda franchises, for approximately $3.55 billion, strengthening its presence in the important and growing business of children's entertainment.
DreamWorks stockholders will receive $41 for each share they own. That's a 24 percent premium to the company's Wednesday closing price of $32.20. The companies put the deal's value at about $3.8 billion.
DreamWorks will become part of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, which includes Universal Pictures. The studio has churned out hit animated movies through its Illumination label, including the Minions sequel and it has some Dr. Seuss projects in the works such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
The nation's largest cable company said the deal gives NBCUniversal, a unit of Comcast Corp., a "broader reach to a host of new audiences in the highly competitive kids and family entertainment space, in both TV and film." In addition to the cartoon franchises, DreamWorks also owns what Comcast called a "thriving TV operation" with its AwesomenessTV network of online video creators and a lengthy contract to create shows for Netflix.
The deal solves what Cowen and Co. analyst Doug Creutz "would have been a very difficult succession plan had DWA remained independent, as to a certain extent we think the company had been held together purely through (CEO Jeffrey) Katzenberg's force of will."