DreamWorks plots Hasbro merger, Hearst JV

TurboDreamWorks Animation is close to creating a kids and family entertainment giant through a merger with toy company Hasbro, according to Deadline.

Further to that agreement, which could close at the end of the year, DreamWorks is reportedly looking to turn its MCN AwesomenessTV into a joint venture with entertainment publisher and channel investor Hearst.

Deadline reports the new entertainment giant would be called DreamWorks-Hasbro, with DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg installed as chairman.

Katzenberg reportedly wants Hasbro to pay $35 a share in the potential deal, which is a considerable premium on its current share price of $22.37.

Hasbro has been increasingly keen on diversifying from a toy manufacturer into a fully-equipped family entertainment group, and today promoted Stephen Davis to executive VP and chief content officer to develop its brands, which include My Little Pony and Transformers across platforms.

The firm recently reduced its holding in children’s channel The Hub to 40%, which joint venture partner Discovery Communications then rebranded as Discovery Family. Hasbro also has a production division, Hasbro Studios.

DreamWorks, meanwhile, has been seeking an investor for some time following a series of poor returns from movies such as Turbo, Mr. Peabody & Sherman and Return of the Guardians. Over the summer, Japanese firm SoftBank looked at taking a stake in the firm, but has now seemingly set its sights on an investment in Lionsgate Entertainment.

It struck a major programming agreement to produce series such as Turbo FAST (pictured) for Netflix, and also an output deal with Germany’s Super RTL.

Having acquired AwesomenessTV last year in a pay that could be worth up to US$117 million, the firm is now talking with Hearst about a joint venture, Deadline reported.

This would see Hearst pay US$81.25 million for a 25% stake, valuing Awesomeness at US$300 million. More than US$56 million of this will go to DreamWorks, with another US$25 million invested in Awesomeness, whose CEO Brian Robbins formed the firm as a YouTube channel operator in 2012.

A completed deal would result in Hearst placing one member on the Awesomeness board, though it would also have power over annual budgets and business plans, employment changes for Robbins and COO Brett Bouttier, and any merger, acquisition or sale costing more than US$5 million.

DreamWorks, Hasbro and Hearst couldn’t be reached for comment before press time.

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