Japanese telecommunications and internet powerhouse SoftBank is making a run to acquire DreamWorks Animation, according to reports from The Wall Street Journal and The Hollywood Reporter. It's not clear how close the two are to a deal, but reports from sources close to the matter say SoftBank has offered $32 per share compared to DreamWorks Animation's current $22 price.
DreamWorks Animation, the tiny Hollywood studio behind films such as Shrek, Madagascar, and more recently, How to Train Your Dragon, could provide a unique way for SoftBank to bolster its wireless offerings. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company — and its outspoken billionaire CEO Masayoshi Son — could use content from the animation studio to make Sprint more competitive in the US. SoftBank completed its acquisition of Sprint last year, and has looked for ways to take on AT&T and Verizon.
Just months ago, the company sought to purchase fourth-place US carrier T-Mobile and merge it with Sprint to make a stronger, more competitive network. Regulators were wary of such a deal, and now it appears Masayoshi Son is taking a different approach to growing Sprint. Content from the studio could also be used in SoftBank's home of Japan, where it operates one of the country's big three wireless carriers.
DreamWorks Animation has struggled in recent years — particularly in the stock market — with its fortunes tied to the box office performance of the two to three films it releases a year. Its spotted track record in the past year includes misses such as Turbo, Rise of the Guardians, and Mr. Peabody & Sherman. How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The Croods were more successful. The company was spun off from DreamWorks in 2004.
Update, 8:00PM ET, 9/29/14: The Wall Street Journal followed up its original report with a new piece saying that talks between Softbank and DreamWorks have "cooled," though of course a deal still remains a possibility.