After giving up on a potential T-Mobile merger, Sprint owner SoftBank is now looking to acquire an entirely different sort of company: DreamWorks Animation.
Yes, one of Japan’s largest telecom companies could soon own the studio behind Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon, reports the Wall Street Journal and Hollywood Reporter. The deal could be worth as around $3.4 billion, sources say (DreamWorks Animation’s market cap currently sits at around $2 billion).
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son positioned the T-Mobile acquisition as something that could have created a stronger competitor to AT&T and Verizon. But federal regulators never warmed to the deal, preferring to keep four major wireless carriers around. SoftBank ended up throwing in the towel on that merger in early August.
While DreamWorks Animation, which spun out of the DreamWorks studio in 2004, seems like an odd choice for SoftBank, it could be a gateway to exclusive content for Sprint’s subscribers. I’m not sure if Sprint will sell more phones and plans if they were the only carrier to have exclusive Shrek content, but Son, the second-richest man in Japan, likely has some intriguing possibilities in mind for the deal.
Given DreamWorks Animation’s own struggles over the past few years, with few big box office successes (like the Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon series) and a string of outright failures, an acquisition would probably be the best possible outcome for the studio.