Ubisoft bids adieu to Gameloft

France-based publisher unloads stake in mobile-game developer for a cool $112 million.

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Ubisoft announced this week that it has sold its 18.9 percent ownership share of mobile-game-centric developer Gameloft. The 13,367,923 shares were sold to Calyon, Credit Agricole Group's corporate and investment bank, at 6.08 euros (approximately $8.40) apiece, for a total of around 81.3 million euros (approximately $112 million).

Ubisoft's deal with Calyon was undertaken as an equity swap agreement, where Calyon must sell the shares within 24 months. According to Ubisoft CFO Alain Martine, "this approach enables us to inform the market of our exit strategy and to stagger the market placement of the Gameloft shares."

According to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, the publisher plans to channel the newly found capital into internal and external growth options. "We have therefore decided to sell our stake in Gameloft in order to focus on Ubisoft's expansion and strengthen our ability to seize all such growth opportunities," said the exec.

The Paris-based publisher most recently teamed with Gameloft on the well-received Prince of Persia Classic, and the two currently stand to collaborate on several other games. Guillemot reiterated his company's commitment to the mobile platform, stating that "Ubisoft and Gameloft will continue their productive collaboration at a purely operational level, particularly concerning the utilization of Ubisoft's brands on mobile phones."

Looking to maximize its return, Ubisoft's timing on the sale seems to be spot-on. Also based in Paris, Gameloft reported $89 million in sales for 2006, a 48 percent year-over-year increase, and projected its 2007 sales to fall between $117 million and $130 million. In May, the developer tallied its best quarter to date, raking in $30.9 million in sales for Q1 2007, up 56 percent from the same quarter last year.

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