Viacom Film Unit Acquires DreamWorks Studios

12 December 2005

Media conglomerate Viacom has snapped up the US DreamWorks SKG film studios and, it hopes, access to the talents of mega-director Stephen Spielberg.

Paramount Pictures, the movie making division of Viacom, outmanoeuvred rival NBC Universal, owned by General Electric, with a last minute bid for the company and its impressive library of block-busting movies, including Gladiator and Saving Private Ryan. Paramount is reported to be in advanced discussions with investors to sell the library but will continue to have distribution rights.

The $1.6 billion (€1.35bn; £911m) deal does not include DreamWorks Animation, a separate public company, but does give Viacom the rights to distribute its already-made movies, such as Shrek.

Universal had been in negotiations for many months and was widely expected to ink a deal for the business, which Spielberg founded 11 years ago with fellow Hollywood moguls David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg. However, hesitation over the valuation of DreamWorks allowed Viacom come in with its offer.

The latter is currently in the process of splitting into two separate units. The new Viacom will include the company's cable and entertainment brands, including MTV Networks, BET and Paramount. It will be led by Tom Freston.

The second unit, CBS, headed by Leslie Moonves, will include CBS TV, UPN, Paramount TV and book publisher Simon & Schuster.

Data sourced from BBC Online; additional content by WARC staff