DreamWorks Animation Sale Talks with Hasbro End

Hasbro does not plan to acquire DreamWorks Animation, in a deal that would have been worth at least $2.3 billion, Variety has confirmed.

The toymaker ended conversations with the toon studio on Friday, causing DWA’s stock to plummet more than $2.50 a share after the close of the trading day on Wall Street.

While sources close to the merger discussions between the two companies say talks were in their early stages, the very idea had Hollywood considering the prospects of an entertainment juggernaut that would have combined popular franchises, TV shows, digital platforms, and a growing consumer products, live events and location-based entertainment business.

Several factors led to the ending of talks between Hasbro and DreamWorks. Hasbro chief Brian Goldner is said to have grown skittish over the impact the potential merger had on Hasbro’s stock, which fell 4% on Thursday to $54.98 and another 1.75% on Friday to $54.02.

Investors regained confidence in Hasbro after merger talks were reported to have ended.

Analysts criticized the deal, especially the price DWA was asking, which some say ranged between $30 and $35 a share. That was far too high for some observers.

DWA chief Jeffrey Katzenberg wanted at least $30 a share. Some put the asking price as high as $35.

DreamWorks Animation’s potential as an acquisition target has been a leading investment thesis for owners of the stock since DWA went public in 2004, following the box office success of ‘Shrek 2,’” said Richard Greenfield and Brandon Ross, analysts at BTIG Research, on Friday, following news that the talks were under way on Thursday. “Unfortunately for DWA, the company’s inconsistent creative output, and thus financial performance, makes it hard to understand why anyone would want to acquire the company at its current market valuation, let alone the $3 billion plus that management supposedly covets.”

FBR Capital Markets also was doubtful, saying, “Katzenberg, we believe, has a constructive view of DWA’s value, which can make it hard for the seller and buyer to agree on pricing.”

Neither side has officially commented on why the talks fell apart, nor the potential of a deal. The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news that the two sides had parted ways.

Hasbro follows recent conversations DWA has had to sell the toon studio. In September, it discussed such a sale with Japanese tech giant SoftBank, that also ended just days later.

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