Ubisoft Holds off Vivendi Takeover Through Board of Directors Elections

ubisoft, AAA IP, e3, 2016

But the fight with Vivendi for company control isn’t over yet.

Ubisoft was today able to stave off Vivendi’s hostile takeover bid of the video game developer and publisher — at least for now. During an annual meeting of Ubisoft’s board of directors, CEO Yves Guillemot and brother Gerard Guillemot were both re-elected to the board and were joined by two new Ubisoft-recommended board members, VentureBeat reports.

“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.”

Heading into the meeting it wasn’t clear whether or not Vivendi would seek to have its own representatives placed on Ubisoft’s board. A scource told the Wall Street Journal yesterday that Vivendi would not do so, but the company itself had elected not to confirm or deny as much. However, Vivendi has been making the case to be granted board representation since April.

And the battle for control of the French games publisher goes back even further than that. Vivendi started buying up more stock in the company last year; Ubisoft responded by calling it an unwanted takeover bid and by hiring advisory firm Lazard Inc. to help it block an acquisition.

Today’s events likely do not mark the end of Vivendi’s campaign to seize control of Ubisoft. Vivendi now owns a 23 percent stake compared to the founding Guillemot family’s 19 percent stake. Further, Vivendi already managed to grab control of mobile game company Gameloft SE, another business the Guillemot family founded.

“We won’t relax until they sell their shares,” Yves Guillemot, co-founder, chairman and chief executive of Ubisoft, told the Journal. “The creeping control strategy implemented by Vivendi is dangerous. We think that there’s a great risk of shareholders losing value.”

In another move to block Vivendi from taking over, Ubisoft recently bought back 3.2 percent (3.625 million shares) of its own stock from bank BpiFrance at $137.5 million.

The Guillemot family is concerned that shareholders would lose value in a Vivendi takeover, partly because Vivendi has refused to submit a written strategy proposal outlining its plans for the future of the company post-takeover. For its part, Vivendi is said to believe that combining Ubisoft’s gaming business with its TV, music, movie and games businesses will propel it to become a media giant.


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