Join gaming leaders online at GamesBeat Summit Next this upcoming November 9-10. Learn more about what comes next.
Ubisoft evidently won a victory today over French media company Vivendi in its attempt to thwart a hostile takeover, as the French publisher’s board of directors approved its slate of candidates in the annual meeting.
A spokesperson for Ubisoft, the makers of blockbusters such as Tom Clancy’s The Division, Watch Dogs 2, and Assassin’s Creed for home gaming consoles and PCs, confirmed that CEO Yves Guillemot and his brother, Gerard Guillemot, were re-elected to the board, and two new Ubisoft-recommended independent members were also approved. That should give the Paris-based company with 10,000 employees some relief in the takeover battle with Vivendi, which has accumulated 23 percent of Ubisoft’s publicly traded shares.
“Today during our annual general meeting, Ubisoft shareholders expressed massive support for Ubisoft’s strategy and management,” the company said in a statement. “We remain focused on the execution of our strategic roadmap, which has already proven successful and which we are confident will continue to deliver great results and value for all of Ubisoft’s stakeholders. We’re also very happy to welcome two new independent directors, Frederique Dame and Florence Naviner, who will bring their expertise and know-how to Ubisoft’s board.”
The takeover battle isn’t over just yet. The Guillemot family controls about 19 percent of the stock of the company. Vivendi has managed to win takeover tussles before. It acquired control of the mobile game publisher Gameloft, which was also started by the Guillemot family, in June after an extended takeover battle.
Three top investment pros open up about what it takes to get your video game funded.
Vivendi has a long way to go before it can gain 50 percent control of the company. But under French law, Vivendi would be required to make a tender offer to buy the whole company if it acquires more than 30 percent control of Ubisoft. Vivendi could have proposed its own alternative board candidates in writing by September 4 or verbally at the annual meeting, but it did not do so.
“We won’t relax until they sell their shares,” Yves Guillemot said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “The creeping control strategy implemented by Vivendi is dangerous. We think that there’s a great risk of shareholders losing value.”
Last week, Ubisoft agreed to buy 3.2 percent of its own stock from French investment bank Banque Publique d’Investissement for $137 million. Ubisoft has been touting its 30-year heritage this year with promotions such as the We are Ubisoft website. Ubisoft also noted that market researchers NPD and GfK noted that the company has led sales in the North America, Europe, and Australia to date with game sales.
GamesBeatGamesBeat's creed when covering the game industry is "where passion meets business." What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you -- not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. How will you do that? Membership includes access to:
- Newsletters, such as DeanBeat
- The wonderful, educational, and fun speakers at our events
- Networking opportunities
- Special members-only interviews, chats, and "open office" events with GamesBeat staff
- Chatting with community members, GamesBeat staff, and other guests in our Discord
- And maybe even a fun prize or two
- Introductions to like-minded parties