DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg Seals $391 Million Payday

Senior Film Reporter
UPDATED: DreamWorks Animation shareholders had already cashed in on the sale of the cartoon studio in April, when Comcast’s acquisition brought them $41 a share, a near 50% premium for the company that created “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda.”

The public owners laughed all the way to the bank … or the yacht dealership. On Tuesday, executives and board members got their turn — with outgoing CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg’s more than $391 million cash-out leading the pack. The founder (along with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen) of one-time uber studio DreamWorks SKG turned in more than 10.2 million DWA shares and options to score the ginormous payday, a regulatory filing showed.

That lines up roughly with the $395 million that research firm Equilar forecast back at the time of the sale. It also should vanquish any lingering concern about Katzenberg being left out in the cold, since his move out of the chief executive’s suite and into a position as a consultant for DreamWorks’ online efforts — headlined by AwesomenessTV.

A friend of the man once in line for the throne at Disney (before he was jilted by then CEO Michael Eisner) confirmed Katzenberg’s eye-popping good fortune — though the friend came up with a slightly more modest $385 million total.

Sources said Katzenberg got to sell a total of 9,186,260 shares he held variously via direct ownership, a trust and a series of entities he owns with his wife Marilyn. That part of the deal netted him more than $376.6 million. He also got to exercise options on more than 1 million additional shares, priced at $24.28 a share and at $35.30 a share — bagging $14.9 million more.

Disney President Ann Daly got the second biggest payday, at just under $40 million. Like Katzenberg, the bulk of that came via the sale of shares at the full price of $41 a share. With more than 886,000 shares, that netted Daly more than $36 million. Added to nearly $3.5 million more from options sales, Daly takes home a total of more than $39.8 million.

Compared to the two top corporate dogs, the haul for a couple of other DreamWorks officers looks almost parsimonious. Chief Financial Officer Fazal Merchant received about $3 million, while Chief Counsel John Chang netted roughly $2.5 million.

Katzenberg could not immediately be reached for comment. Reports that the mogul was eyeing an offer on Disneyland’s Matterhorn, with Toontown thrown in, could not be immediately confirmed.

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