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SoftBank said to eye DreamWorks as way into Hollywood

CEO Masayoshi Son is reportedly in talks to acquire the studio behind animated films "Shrek" and "How to Train Your Dragon."

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son
SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son likely has money to spend on expansion thanks to an early investment in Alibaba. AFP/Getty Images

After attempting to acquire T-Mobile earlier this year, Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank may now be looking to get a foothold in Hollywood.

SoftBank CEO and Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son is in talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation, the studio behind animated films such as "Shrek" and "How to Train Your Dragon," according to reports this weekend from The Hollywood Reporter and The Wall Street Journal. The deal could value the animation studio at $3.4 billion, a source told THR.

SoftBank did not respond to a request for comment. DreamWorks said it does not comment on rumor and speculation.

Until about a month ago, SoftBank, the parent company of Sprint, was working to acquire T-Mobile from parent Deutsche Telekom. Son had argued a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile -- the third- and fourth-largest US carriers, respectively -- would break the hold that Verizon Wireless and AT&T have over the wireless industry in the US. The deal was scrapped after the sides realized regulators were against it.

A deal with DreamWorks, if completed, would provide SoftBank with exclusive content and, according to the Journal, another possible avenue to challenge Verizon and AT&T. Instead of directly taking on the wireless industry, SoftBank may be trying to boost its arsenal of content providers. Last year, SoftBank paid $1.5 billion for a controlling stake in mobile game developer Supercell, which makes the popular games Clash of Clans and Hay Day.

SoftBank likely has money to spend on expansion thanks to an early investment in Alibaba. The Chinese e-commerce giant raised $21.8 billion in its initial public offering earlier this month, the largest in US history. SoftBank said it expected a gain of nearly $5 billion from the IPO. The company's 32 percent stake Alibaba is now valued at $71 billion , reported the Journal.

Update, 3:55 p.m. PT: Clarifies that SoftBank's 32 percent stake in Alibaba is currently valued at around $71 billion.

Update, September 29 at 2:38 p.m. PT: Adds DreamWorks declining to comment.