Vivendi said today that its stake in French game publisher Ubisoft now exceeds 25 percent, pushing the company over a legal threshold and possibly triggering a takeover battle.
Paris-based Vivendi took over Gameloft, a mobile game publisher started by the same Guillemot family that leads Ubisoft, last year using the same sort of creeping share acquisition strategy. Now, Vivendi holds 25.15 percent of Ubisoft’s shares and 22.92 percent of its voting rights based on the most recent data available on October 31. If Vivendi acquires more than 30 percent of the stock, it is required under French law to make an offer to buy the entire company.
Accordingly, French media company Vivendi filed its declaration today with the Autorité des marchés financiers, the French securities regulator, stating its intentions over the coming six months. Vivendi said that it is considering acquiring more shares based on market conditions, but it is not considering the launch of a public tender offer to buy Ubisoft or acquire control of the company.
Vivendi said that previous acquisitions have been financed using its disposable cash. It is not acting together with any third-party in connection with its investment in Ubisoft and has not entered into a temporary sale agreement concerning Ubisoft’s shares or voting rights. Vivendi is hoping to build a fruitful cooperation with Ubisoft, but Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has said that his company, with more than 10,000 employees, will not rest until Vivendi sells its shares.
Vivendi continues to seek a recomposition of the Ubisoft board of directors in order to, among other things, obtain board representation consistent with its shareholder position.
[Updated 6:36 am 12/8/2016]: Ubisoft responded in a statement, ““This is another indication that Vivendi is continuing its ill-advised and value-destructive approach of attempting to take creeping control of companies like Ubisoft. As we’ve said previously, we are undeterred by these actions and remain focused on providing the best experiences to our players and fans, and to delivering long-term value for all of our shareholders.”