French government may defend Ubisoft in EA share grab

EA's purchase of nearly 20 percent of Ubisoft's shares prompts the French government to take notice--and possibly jump into the potential squabble.

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Last week, the French business daily Le Tribune reported that Ubisoft might get a little help from some higher authorities to help defend the French game publisher from a potential takeover by industry rival and software giant Electronic Arts.

As reported by the AFX wire service, the French government, which has been a watchdog of sorts to the burgeoning game-developing industry in France, may step into the mix to protect Ubisoft in an effort to save that company and possible strikes at other French game developers and publishers, such as Infogrames.

EA purchased 19.9 percent of Ubisoft stock from European investment firm Talpa Beheer BV on December 20. While the purchase of Ubisoft by EA was referred to as "hostile" by Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, EA has stated that it would be "very good shareholders."

The precautionary measures that are being considered by the French government would make a takeover by EA difficult.

AFX also reported that French newspaper Les Echos said Ubisoft is considering increasing the shares owned by Ubisoft founders, the Guillemot family. That group currently owns the largest block of stock in the company at 22.8 percent. Reportedly, Ubisoft will be gathering its largest stockholders together to convince them not to cooperate with any advances from EA.

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