Could SoftBank soon own Shrek? Cashed-up Alibaba investor in DreamWorks takeover talks

Japanese telecommunications and internet giant SoftBank has surprised investors by reportedly entering into talks to take over DreamWorks, the Hollywood animation studio known for franchises such as Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon and Madagascar.

SoftBank, which was the first Japanese carrier to offer the Apple iPhone, is a major shareholder in Yahoo! Japan, US carrier Sprint and the recently listed Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

The company has previously been linked to takeover talks for content companies including Universal Music Group, as well as rival US carrier T-Mobile.

According to reports in Nikkei and the Japan Times, SoftBank is rumoured to have placed an offer worth $US3.4 billion ($A3.9 billion) for Dreamworks, with the animation studio holding an emergency meeting to consider the offer late last week.

The proposed deal is believed to include a five-year contract for DreamWorks founder and chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, and comes after the studio reported a second-quarter loss of $US15.4 million off revenue of $US122.3 million.

The Wall Street Journal, reports the talks had kicked off on Saturday but had cooled by Monday, although it remained possible that negotiations could restart. Aside from an outright takeover, it is possible a deal could take the form of a content partnership between the two companies.


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