DreamWorks CEO Katzenberg leaves with $391M as Comcast closes $3.8B acquisition

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

Comcast has officially closed its $3.8 billion acquisition of DreamWorks Animation and former DWA CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is stepping away from the deal with a whopping $391 million payday.

According to Variety, Katzenberg’s big cash-out comes from 10.2 million DWA shares and options. He was able to sell 9,186,260 shares he held directly and through other entities. That sale resulted in $376.6 million and an additional exercise of options on another 1 million shares got him $14.9 million more, according to the report.

Katzenberg will stay on as chairman of DreamWorks New Media – which presides over digital media efforts like AwesomenessTV – and will also become a consultant to Comcast.

It’s Katzenberg’s role with DreamWorks New Media that is the focus of a class-action suit against the now former CEO. According to a complaint filed in June by shareholders, Katzenberg affected the total acquisition price for DreamWorks by accepting the position, which awards him only $1 per year in salary but gives him 7 percent of New Media’s annual profit in perpetuity.

"Had Katzenberg not received the extraordinarily valuable side deal, Comcast would have been required to increase the merger price to secure Katzenberg's support," the complaint said.

With the closure of the acquisition, DWA stockholders get $41 in cash for each share of DWA common stock. DWA stock will no longer be listed on the Nasdaq.

Now, as part of the Comcast-NBCUniversal group, DreamWorks stands to benefit from broader vertical integration via NBCU’s theme park business and the studio will become a major part of NBCU’s SVOD content creation efforts.

"The DreamWorks team did a great job of building a TV animation studio, and that's something Universal has not been able to do," Cavanagh said at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference on May 23, adding that the studio’s content will be "largely be distributed over SVOD."

NBCU detailed the leadership structure for the newly acquired DreamWorks. The feature animation group will be run by co-presidents of feature animation, Bonnie Arnold and Mireille Soria, who will report to Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley. NBCU’s animation TV head Margie Cohn will run the integrated DreamWorks and Universal TV animation business and NBCU brand development president Vince Klaseus will run the combined Universal and DreamWorks games, digital and consumer products organization.

For more:
- see this press release
- read this Variety article
- read this Hollywood Reporter article

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DreamWorks Animation chief Katzenberg sued over Comcast deal

This article was updated with details about DreamWorks' new management structure.