In an attempt to expand the company’s Board of Directors, Ubisoft has nominated two new possible members for consideration. If approved, both Frederique Dame and Florence Naviner would join the board as independent directors, bringing the total number of members to ten, with five being independent.
This move comes as Ubisoft faces a possible hostile takeover from the media conglomerate Vivendi. Continuing to slowly buy up shares, when Vivendi reached the 20% threshold of ownership in the games company, French law required they state their intentions. Among Vivendi’s goals, the company explained they wish to receive proportional representation on the Ubisoft Board of Directors. By expanding the board, Ubisoft limits the control Vivendi might be able to exercise over the company if that were to happen.
“We are delighted to continue the expansion of our Board of Directors with the appointment of Frederique and Florence as independent directors. Their international careers are perfectly consistent with the profile of Ubisoft, which generates more than 90% of its revenues abroad. They will bring Ubisoft valuable and complementary experience,” Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot says in a press release.
“They will bring Ubisoft valuable and complementary experience.”
Frederique Dame is currently an angel investor in Silicon Valley, but has a long and rich corporate career. Not only did she work with Uber, helping take the company from 80 employees to over 7,000, she also has worked with Yahoo!, Smugmug, and Photobucket.
Meanwhile, Florence Naviner is the CFO and SVP of Wringly, the company behind Skittles, Starbursts, and Altiods, among a host of other gums and candies, and a subsidiary of Mars Incorporated. She brings over 30 years of corporate experience to the table.
The nominations come as current board member Estelle Metayer is stepping down. The vote to approve Dame and Naviner will be held at the end of Metayer’s tenure, on September 29.
Ubisoft’s contentions with Vivendi have been ongoing ever since last fall. The first red flags rose as Vivendi began making unsolicited purchases of stock in both Ubisoft and another Guillemot family-owned company, mobile developer Gameloft. Since then, Vivendi passed the legal 30% ownership threshold of Gameloft, requiring the conglomerate to make a buy-out offer for the remaining shares.
“Gameloft represents the first step in a very ambitious plan that [Vivendi has] for the video games sector.”
That process concluded on July 1 with the Guillemot family selling the last of their Gameloft shares, leaving Vivendi to now own roughly 96% of the company. At the end of last month, Vivendi COO Stephane Roussel was named the new Gameloft CEO. “I start my role today with an ambitious plan: to combine your creative passion with Vivendi’s to accelerate Gameloft’s development,” he explained at the time.
Meanwhile, Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine commented, “Gameloft represents the first step in a very ambitious plan that we have for the video games sector.”
A gigantic conglomerate already, Vivendi owned Acitvision-Blizzard until 2013, and still owns Dailymotion and Studio Canal among a large range of other media companies.
Speaking to Le Monde (via Rueters), Yves Guillemot admitted that the Guillemot family is considering using the proceeds from the sale of Gameloft to strengthen their hold on Ubisoft. Making his position clear, he added, “We don’t want [Vivendi] sitting on the board, because they’re implementing a creeping control strategy to take over the company.”
We’ll be following the story more as it continues to develop.