Disney Wins Backing of Maker Investors Over RelativityAnousha Sakoui and Jon Erlichman
Walt Disney Co.’s $950 million agreement by buy Maker Studios was reaffirmed by the online video company, putting a quick end to a last-minute offer from Relativity Media LLC.
Maker Studios said yesterday its board and a majority of shareholders approved the sale, which should close in a few weeks. The Culver City, California-based company also said in an e-mail that a judge in Los Angeles refused a request by some investors to block an investor vote.
Relativity, the independent film studio led by Ryan Kavanaugh, briefly raised the prospect of a bidding war for Maker Studios. It offered as much as $1.1 billion, mostly in stock, for the online supplier of videos to YouTube, before conceding defeat. Disney’s terms included $500 million, along with $450 million in performance bonuses.
“We made a compelling offer and believe Maker Studios, its employees and its roster of talent would have greatly benefited from Relativity’s platform, its entrepreneurial approach and promising growth potential,” Relativity, based in Beverly Hills, California, said in a statement.
With more than 55,000 channels, 380 million subscribers and 5.5 billion views per month on Google Inc.’s YouTube, Maker Studios has become a top online video network for younger viewers, according to Disney.
Disney agreed to buy Maker Studios on March 24, gaining technology and experience with short-form video entertainment.
The acquisition is one of the biggest for Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, since the $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm Ltd. in 2012.
“Short-form online video is growing at an astonishing pace and with Maker Studios, Disney will now be at the center of this dynamic industry with an unmatched combination of advanced technology and programming expertise and capabilities,” Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in the statement at the time.
Disney rose 0.8 percent to $77.62 yesterday in New York. The stock has gained 1.6 percent this year, compared with a 1 percent decline for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
Danny Zappin, a former CEO of Maker Studios, and three co-founders unsuccessfully sought in court to block what they said was an April 15 vote on the Disney takeover, saying the notice to shareholders was misleading.