Maker Studios says acquisition by Disney is already approved

Lisa Nova (Lisa Donovan) and Kassem G (Kassem Gharaiben) at Maker Studios.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Maker Studios said on Monday that its deal to be acquired by the Walt Disney Co. has already been approved, throwing cold water on a last-minute offer from Relativity Media worth up to $1.1 billion.

“As per the announcement made on March 24, Maker Studios has entered into a merger agreement with The Walt Disney Company,” a Maker spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “The agreement has been approved by Maker Studios’ Board of Directors and the majority of its shareholders and is expected to close in the next few weeks, subject to regulatory approval.”

Relativity, a Beverly Hills-based film and entertainment company, had offered to pay $525 million in cash and stock for the Culver City digital media company, plus as much as $500 million more depending on the financial performance of the company, according to a person familiar with the deal who asked not to be identified.


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Relativity also offered a bonus pool worth $75 million for “key talent and executives,” this person said.

Maker had already agreed to be bought by Disney in a deal worth up to $950 million.

Disney said last month that it will pay $500 million in cash to Maker shareholders, plus as much as $450 million more, depending on Maker’s performance after the acquisition.

Maker, founded in 2009, is best known for its videos aimed at millennial viewers, who increasingly go online for video entertainment.

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Best known as the company behind YouTube successes such as “Epic Rap Battles of History” and PewDiePie, Maker has about 55,000 YouTube channels with 380 million subscribers and 5.5 billion views per month.


Relativity appears to still be in the market for a digital media company.

“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,” said a Relativity spokesperson. “We will continue to aggressively explore future opportunities that align with our strategy to accelerate digital content creation and distribution.”


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