Over the past year Ubisoft, the celebrated publisher behind Assassin’s Creed, Tom Clancy, and Watch Dogs, has fought a continuing struggle against a possible take-over from media conglomerate Vivendi. As the company continues to buy up shares in Ubisoft stock, they have now crossed the 20% threshold.
The 20% mark is particularly important given the fact that according to French law, Vivendi is now forced to publicly state their intentions going forward. Specifically pertaining to the next six months, the media conglomerate issued a press release outlining:
- The acquisitions have been financed using disposable cash.
- Vivendi is not acting with any third party and has not entered into a temporary sale agreement concerning Ubisoft’s shares or voting rights.
- Vivendi is considering continuing to acquire shares depending on market conditions.
- Vivendi is not considering the launch of a public tender on Ubisoft nor acquiring the control of the company.
- Vivendi is hoping to build a fruitful cooperation with Ubisoft.
- Vivendi is considering asking for a recomposition of the Ubisoft Board of Directors in order to obtain Board representation.
The press release goes on to also state the “investment in Ubisoft’s business sector is part of a strategic vision of operational convergence between Vivendi’s content and platform and Ubisoft’s productions in the field of video games.”
Vivendi is a massive media company, the owners of Dailymotion, Studiocanal, and Universal Music, among many other things. The company even used to own NBC Universal. Already connected to the video game’s industry, Vivendi owns a large stake in mobile games developer Gameloft, and used to own Activision-Blizzard before allowing the publisher to buy itself out for $8.2 billion.
The contention between Ubisoft and Vivendi is nothing new. Last October Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot declared, “Our intention is and has always been to remain independent, a value which, for 30 years, has allowed us to innovate, take risks, create beloved franchises for players around the world, and which has helped the company grow into the leader it is today…
“We’re going to fight to preserve our independence. We should not let this situation–nor any future actions by Vivendi or others–distract us from our goals.”
Though Vivendi stated they have no intention of buying a controlling stake in Ubisoft in the next six months, it is worth noting that the 30% threshold is the next major milestone. At that point, a company is required to offer a full buy-out to the other shareholders. When Vivendi crossed that very threshold with Gameloft earlier this year, Ubisoft made an open call for investors, even turning to the Canadian government for aid in fending off a similar take-over.
We will continue to follow this story as it develops.