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EA staking out additional Ubisoft turf?

[UPDATE] Companies mum on report from Paris that Electronic Arts seeks entrée into Ubisoft boardroom. New plan of attack, or was something lost in translation?


How does Electronic Arts intend to leverage its current ownership stake in Ubisoft Entertainment? Today, Reuters threw some oil on the fires of speculation. Citing a filing in France EA officials completed on Wednesday, the news service said EA "may add to its almost 20 percent stake in France's Ubisoft and seek representation on its board."

While the US press picked up the news as indicating EA is now seeking a bigger role in Ubisoft's decision-making process, it remains unclear if that is indeed the case. While no comment was forthcoming from Ubisoft or EA today, sources did tell GameSpot the Paris-datelined Reuters dispatch might refer only to a filing in which EA formalized previously taken steps...and nothing more.

In EA's third-quarter earnings call last month, held January 25, CFO Warren Jenson said his company wants "to keep all of our options open." He continued to say EA "could seek a controlling interest" or it could also "sell its shares." He also said that, "if anything were to happen, it would happen with the full cooperation of Ubisoft."

What Jenson did not address was EA taking a seat among other Ubisoft directors. Therefore, it remains unclear if the filing cited by Reuters signals a new plan by EA to exert added influence or is merely a "reiteration" of previous statements.

[UPDATE] GameSpot has since learned that Electronic Arts did in fact file documents with French finance authorities on Wednesday. The documents were filed in accordance with trading regulations that require a recent shareholder of substantial interest to, within three weeks of the transaction being approved, file documents with the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (an organization similar to the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US). The authority requires new owners to indicate all possible future plans that might result from a substantial purchase. A source inside the financial community told GameSpot the reference to taking a seat on the Ubisoft board of directors, contained in the documents, was likely done to cover all possibilities, but it does not necessarily indicate for certain such a move will be taken.

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