As Ubisoft Worries About a Takeover, Gameloft CEO Addresses His Company's Future
Vivendi now owns a majority of Gameloft, whose CEO also sits on Ubisoft's board of directors.
With French media conglomerate Vivendi looking like it plans to attempt a hostile takeover of Ubisoft, it has already gained control over another French game company, Gameloft. Its CEO, the brother of Ubisoft's CEO, has now spoken out about the situation and announced he will soon step down from his role.
Michel Guillemot announced his intentions in an email sent to Gameloft's employees today that has since been obtained by Game Informer. He confirms that Vivendi has obtained a majority of Gameloft's shares (a "meager 61 percent," as he puts it) through its hostile takeover. He also says that Vivendi's offer has reopened until June 15. This provides all shareholders who initially refused to sell their shares the opportunity to do so "now that these shares will not be the shares of an independent company but of a Vivendi-dependent company. Being a minority shareholder of a dependent company is usually not recommended."
Guillemot also reveals he'll step down as CEO of the mobile game company, but that he'll remain in power until a shareholder meeting on June 29.
"Until that change of management, I remain the president and CEO of Gameloft with full authority; no one else has the right to give you instructions! After that change, I shall not be in the company; a new management with a new strategy will have taken over."
He goes on to congratulate Gameloft's employees for creating a company that caused so many shareholders to refuse to sell their shares. He also speaks briefly about the changes to come, which he says could be "profound."
"There will be from June 29 onwards a new strategy with a possible integration of Gameloft's existing activities into Vivendi's," he explained. "The information published so far by the new owners show that the changes may be profound, for the creators: "convergence between creative industries," and for everyone else: "pooling of distribution networks." It is not my role to say if these changes will be positive or negative for you as it will happen after my watch."
Reports circulated earlier this week that Guillemot would resign in light of the takeover. It's looked as if Vivendi would attempt this for some time as it seeks to also take over Ubisoft.
Last year Ubisoft, which is headed by Michel's brother Yves, said it would "fight to preserve [its] independence" in light of an "unwelcome" investment from Vivendi. Since then, Vivendi has increased its control of the company, and as of April 2016, it holds an 18 percent stake.
In February, The Globe and Mail reported that the hostile bid on Gameloft was part of Vivendi's plan to "force talks with the Guillemot family and take over Ubisoft." Yves and Michel sit on Ubisoft's board, as do several other Guillemots.
In April, as it purchased more shares in Ubisoft, Vivendi claimed that it had "no plans" for a takeover of the company. In a statement released at the time, Ubisoft said it "not at all surprised by this latest statement from Vivendi, nor by the intent behind it. This is a confirmation of their habitual strategy of creeping control, in which they say they have no intention to take control of Ubisoft while steadily increasing their stake and preparing an offensive at the next Annual Shareholders Meeting."
Ubisoft's leadership has also met with investors to prepare for a hostile takeover.
We'll continue to monitor this situation as it develops.
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