Comcast’s DreamWorks Purchase to Face China Antitrust Review

Updated on
  • U.S. Justice Department cleared ‘Shrek’-maker purchase in June
  • Commerce ministry blocked a global shipping deal in 2014

China will conduct an antitrust review of Comcast Corp.’s $3.8 billion purchase of "Shrek"-maker DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., a move that threatens to set back the U.S. media giant’s plans to bolster its library of animated films and characters.

"We will probe into the case based on anti-monopoly laws," Shen Danyang, spokesman at the Ministry of Commerce, said at a briefing in Beijing on Friday. Authorities received complaints that the deal could threaten competition in the Chinese market, said the spokesman, who didn’t identify the source of the objections.

China can block foreign deals it deems to threaten competition, though it rarely does so. That was the case two years ago, when the ministry blocked the formation of a global alliance by the world’s three biggest shipping lines -- none of them Chinese -- even though the agreement had been approved by U.S. and European regulators.

To read an explainer on China’s antitrust rules, click here

Comcast spokesman John Demming declined to comment.

Comcast, which owns Universal Pictures, said last week it completed the acquisition. In June, the company said the U.S. Justice Department cleared the purchase after finding no threat to competition.

Though neither Comcast nor DreamWorks break down their earnings from China, both are counting on growing demand from the country, which is on its way to overtaking the U.S. as the world’s biggest box office by as soon as next year. Comcast is also building a multi-billion-dollar theme park in Beijing.

At the briefing, the commerce ministry also said it’s probing the proposed merger between Uber Technologies Inc. and local champion Didi Chuxing.