Despite Ubisoft CEO's Objections, Former Activision Owner Buys Even More Shares
Vivendi now owns more than 10 percent of Ubisoft.
Vivendi, the company that once owned Activision Blizzard, has announced the purchase of even more shares in Ubisoft. This comes not long after an internal email from Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot described the initial investment, which saw Vivendi buy a 6.6 percent stake in the French game publisher, as "unsolicited and unwelcome."
Vivendi announced today that its equity stake in Ubisoft has increased to 10.39 percent, representing a total investment of 244 million Euros, or about $271 million. It also now owns 10.20 percent of Gameloft, up from the 6.2 percent it said that it had acquired earlier this month.
"These investments are part of a strategic vision of operational convergence between Vivendi's content and platforms on one hand and the Ubisoft and Gameloft productions in video games on the other," the company said today. "Vivendi is acting alone, is not in concert with a third party, and has not concluded a temporary sale agreement regarding the Ubisoft and Gameloft shares or voting rights."
The press release goes on to suggest it may continue to buy up more shares of both companies and could eventually seek seats on their respective boards.
Vivendi is the former owner of Activision Blizzard. The company began looking to sell off its majority stake in the publisher in 2012 and eventually did so in 2013. It still owns part of the company, but that figure--roughly 12 percent after the 2013 sale--is now less than six percent.
The sudden interest in Ubisoft and Gameloft hasn't been well received by the two companies. After the initial acquisition, Ubisoft released a public statement saying it had "taken note of the unsolicited action on the part of Vivendi." It also reaffirmed its "intention to remain independent."
This was followed by a leak of the aforementioned Guillemot email, which referenced Vivendi's history of "aggressively pursuing companies within the entertainment sector." Another internal Guillemot email warned of the possibility of the company being "managed by people who don't understand our expertise and what it takes to succeed in this industry."
Despite this, the share price of Ubisoft has increased about 18 percent since Vivendi's initial investment, from 21.39 Euros ($23.77) on October 14 to 25.33 Euros ($28.15) as of this writing.
It's unclear what impact Vivendi's continued acquisition of shares could have on Ubisoft. But considering Ubisoft is among the biggest game publishers in the world, with franchises like Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, and Just Dance under its umbrella, we'll be continuing to monitor this story closely. Ubisoft's quarterly earnings report is due out on November 4, so we'll likely be hearing more then, if not sooner.
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