China launches anti-trust probe into Comcast, DreamWorks deal

Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg (Credit: David Shankbone/Flickr)

China’s commerce ministry said it will conduct an anti-trust investigation of Comcast’s $3.8 billion acquisition of DreamWorks Animation. 

"We will probe into the case based on anti-monopoly laws," said Shen Danyang, a spokesman from China's Ministry of Commerce, during a briefing in Beijing, as reported by Reuters. 

The agency said it recently “received complaints regarding Comcast's decision to buy out DreamWorks, claiming that the deal would hurt competition in the Chinese market," 

Comcast reps told FierceCable they have no comment. 

The move comes after the commerce ministry has fined more than a dozen companies for what it calls “gun-jumping” — making deals without first seeking its blessing. 

China is a vital market for all film companies, no less so for DreamWorks, which is built on broadly appealing family CGI films such as those of the Kung Fu Panda franchise. 

For the January release of Kung Fu Panda 3, for example, the Chinese market accounted for 41 percent of the film’s strong $376.4 million overseas box-office revenue

In the U.S., DreamWorks Animation chief executive Jeffrey Katzenberg has been sued by shareholders, who say he improperly feathered his nest amid the takeover of the company by Comcast.

In its proposed class-action suit, the Ann Arbor City Employees Retirement System took issue with a deal point that gives Katzenberg a consulting role with DreamWorks New Media through perpetuity. 

The position only pays the mogul $1 a year, but he collects 7 percent of annual profit for the unit, which oversees lucrative operations such as digital programming arm AwesomenessTV. 

For more:
- read this Reuters story
- read this Hollywood Reporter story

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