DreamWorks Animation exploring sale with Centerview Partners: Reuters

(Reuters) — Hollywood movie studio DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc has been exploring a sale with advice from boutique investment bank Centerview Partners Holdings LLC, according to people familiar with the matter.

While Universal Pictures owner Comcast Corp is in advanced talks to acquire the company, DreamWorks Animation has also been exploring a potential deal with other interested buyers, the people said on Wednesday.

There is no certainty that Comcast will finalize an agreement with DreamWorks Animation, the people added.

Representatives for Centerview and DreamWorks Animation did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Comcast declined to comment.

Shares of DreamWorks Animation ended trading up 18 percent on Wednesday at $32.20, giving it a market capitalization of $2.8 billion. The Wall Street Journal first reported the company’s talks with Comcast late on Tuesday.

Comcast’s acquisition of DreamWorks Animation would add to Universal’s film library with major children’s’ franchises such as “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda,” which it could tap for its theme parks and consumer products’ businesses.

Macquarie Securities’ analyst Amy Yong said on Wednesday that Comcast’s Universal Pictures has shown signs of success in animation with films like “Despicable Me” and “Minions”, but “DreamWorks would secure its position in family entertainment.”

In 2014, DreamWorks Animation held talks about a possible sale to Japanese communications and media company Softbank Corp, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters at the time.

Later that year, toymaker Hasbro Inc held preliminary talks to buy DreamWorks Animation, according to another source at the time. The talks formally ended a few days later after the toy company’s board voted to walk away.

DreamWorks Animation spun off from DreamWorks in 2004 as a separate publicly listed company. DreamWorks was founded in 1994 by Hollywood moguls Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg. It released films such as “Saving Private Ryan” and “American Beauty.”

Centerview is one of several boutique investment banks, such as Moelis & Co, Evercore Partners Inc and PJT Partners Inc, that have been encroaching on the investment banking turf of firms such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley in recent years.

Centerview has worked with DreamWorks Animation before. It advised the Glendale, California-based company on the formation of a $330 million joint venture with Chinese media firms in 2012, according to its website.