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CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg Imagines DreamWorks Animation Union With Paramount

1 Mar, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg

Despite declaring himself bullish about DreamWorks Animation’s movie prospects over the next three years, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told an investor group he is also an entrepreneur, which apparently includes speculating about acquiring Paramount Pictures.

Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman last month announced he was exploring selling a minority stake in Paramount to unnamed suitors. The venerable studio posted a $146 million loss in its most-recent fiscal period.

Speaking March 1 at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom confab in San Francisco, Katzenberg reminisced about his 11-year history at Paramount, which included a stint as president of production until 1984. DreamWorks Animation movies were distributed by Paramount for seven years until 2012, when the studio inked a five-year agreement with 20th Century Fox, which included retail releases through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

“I could imagine that with a good financial partner coming with us, putting together the asset of Paramount and DreamWorks could be extremely valuable,” Katzenberg said. “We could bring a lot to that business.”

The executive reiterated that Paramount as a whole has not been made available for sale and that becoming a minority stake holder in the studio wouldn’t work.

“That would have no interest for us,” he said. “I don’t subscribe to ‘bigger is better.’ Today we are probably better positioned — because we’re not bigger — to take advantage of a marketplace that is changing. Everybody in its pre-existing linear businesses and linear channels, they have huge challenges ahead of them.”

Katzenberg said he believes the best years for DreamWork Animation are ahead of it, and isn’t spending a lot of time “tactically” thinking about a Paramount acquisition. At the same time, he admitted to fantasizing about a merger, provided it was done with the appropriate investment partner.

“That could be very exciting. I have as much insight and knowledge into that company. [But] I haven’t looked under the hood, so I don’t really know. And I only read what other people are reading.”

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