China will be pursuing an anti-trust investigation into the recent acquisitions of DreamWorks Animation by NBCUniversal parent company Comcast, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce revealed Friday. Shen Danyang stated that the Ministry had “received complaints” about the $3.8 billion takeover “claiming that the deal would hurt competition in the Chinese market,” according to Reuters.
Comcast’s bid to snap up DreamWorks Animation was announced in April, and approved by the U.S. Justice Department. The acquisition was completed last month with Comcast announcing a new management structure as DWA’s film, TV and new media content businesses were shuffled into NBCUniversal.
The Ministry of Commerce is looking into the deal based on its anti-monopoly laws. While neither Comcast nor DreamWorks Animation are Chinese companies, DWA is a joint-venture partner in Oriental DreamWorks — which co-produced Kung Fu Panda 3. DWA owns 45% of the Shanghai-based studio, alongside Li Ruigang’s China Media Capital.
Variety’s Asia Bureau Chief Patrick Frater speculates that theme park business is likely the driving factor in the complaints, the origins of which were not revealed by Shen. Comcast’s Universal park is under construction near Beijing (due to open in 2019), and DWA is a partner in the Dream Center opening in Shanghai next year, so the takeover gives Comcast significant minority stakes in two of the three biggest foreign-backed theme parks in the country.
The Chinese government’s decision to investigate was announced just as world leaders are arriving in Hangzhou for the G20 Summit.