Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is expected to leave the company he founded if a proposed $3 billion sale to Comcast is successful, an individual with knowledge of the situation told the Wrap.
Comcast would combine DreamWorks with Illumination Entertainment, its animation division led by Chris Meledandri, and Katzenberg would almost certainly be phased out, the individual said.
DreamWorks Animation’s current market value is $2.3 billion, so a sale price of $3 billion would be a coup. The studio has struggled as a standalone entertainment business since it was spun off from DreamWorks SKG as a publicly traded company in 2004. The company was recently forced to cut back its annual number of releases and lay off nearly 20 percent of its staff.
Katzenberg has made a number of attempts in recent years to sell the company to one of the major Hollywood studios, and Hasbro also made a strong play for DWA in late 2014, though it ultimately failed to materialize. Katzenberg recently floated Viacom/Paramount as a potential buyer as well, and had previously held talks with Japan’s Softbank and several Chinese companies.
DWA’s stock has been pummeled due to a limited schedule of animated films in an increasingly crowded market that has made every project a high-risk release. The stock price is currently around $27 per share, down from its high of $35 per share in December 2013, and back up from a low of $17 in September of last year.