SoftBank to Invest $250 Million in Legendary

Softbank Studio Grab - H 2014
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Softbank Studio Grab - H 2014

Talks with Legendary are believed to have been underway for several weeks and have been separate from the DreamWorks Animation discussions

After talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation did not result in a deal, SoftBank announced Thursday that it will invest $250 million in Legendary Entertainment, with the deal expected to close this month.

Softbank also has an option to make two more investments of $375 million each through 2018, which, if exercised, could bring its total investment to $1 billion, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. Variety first reported the additional optional investments. 

On Monday, THR revealed the talks between the Japanese conglomerate and the Hollywood studio. 

“[Founder and CEO] Masayoshi Son has built SoftBank into one of the world's most respected companies. With the arrival of Nikesh and the launch of SIMI, they have a great opportunity to extend their reach into media and entertainment. We are excited to be one of SIMI's first partners and look forward to working together to deliver the next phase of Legendary's growth,” said Legendary chairman Thomas Tull in a statement. 

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SoftBank, which owns Sprint and other mobile providers, is a telecom and Internet giant that has been looking at investing in content companies. It backpedaled from active talks to acquire DreamWorks Animation for $3.4 billion, which THR first reported. It then focused on reaching a deal with Legendary.

Talks with Legendary are believed to have been underway for several weeks and have been separate from the DWA talks. SoftBank’s investment is expected to close in October, subject to certain conditions. Nikesh Arora, vice chairman of SoftBank and CEO of SoftBank Internet and Media, Inc., will be appointed to Legendary’s board of directors.

SoftBank, led by maverick billionaire Son, has been looking for programming that it can distribute to boost its mobile-subscription services.  

“Our goal at SIMI is to leverage SoftBank’s international platform and network of Internet and media partners to accelerate content creators’ digital strategies and extend their global reach," Arora said. "Legendary is already a content powerhouse and we are very excited to make this investment and help them bring their incredibly successful film franchises and other exciting new media content to an even larger global audience.”

Oct. 1, 12:27 p.m. Updated with additional details about the deal.

Gregg Kilday contributed to this report.