Ubisoft Takeover Fears Deepen as Vivendi Closes In

Vivendi expected to now have majority control of Gameloft, with suspicions of wider plan to take over its sister brand Ubisoft.


Michel Guillemot, chief executive of mobile developer Gameloft, is expected to resign from his position after the company's shareholders backed a hostile takeover bid from French media conglomerate Vivendi.

Guillemot and his brother Yves, the latter of which is the chief executive at Ubisoft, have tried in vain to resist Vivendi's unsolicited takeover of Gameloft. French regulators are expected to announce on Friday that Vivendi's bid has been accepted by Gameloft's board, which would give the conglomerate enough voting power to boot Michel from his role.

Ubisoft is the world's third-largest independent video game company
Ubisoft is the world's third-largest independent video game company

Some analysts suspect that Vivendi, having acquired Gameloft, is plotting a wider plan to buy Ubisoft in the same manner. If such a plan is successful, it would mark one of the biggest games company takeovers in history.

In October 2015, two years after selling its controlling stake in Activision Blizzard, Vivendi acquired a minority stake in both Gameloft and Ubisoft. Over time, it has increased its stake in Ubisoft, leading to the takeover speculation.

Currently, the Guillemot brothers have control of 15 percent of the votes on Ubisoft's board of directors. As of April, 2016, Vivendi has a stake in 18 percent of Ubisoft's votes.

Despite increasing its shares in Ubisoft, Vivendi recently stated it has "no plans" to attempt a Ubisoft takover. But the company says that its 18 percent stake in Ubisoft means it deserves representation at board level.

The Guillemots are currently working with financial advisers to build a defence plan against a potential takeover attempt from Vivendi.

Yves Guillemot previously vowed that Ubisoft will "fight to preserve our independence" and described Vivendi's investment in the company as unwanted.

"Our intention is and has always been to remain independent, a value which, for 30 years, has allowed us to innovate, take risks, create beloved franchises for players around the world, and which has helped the company grow into the leader it is today," he said.

"We're going to fight to preserve our independence. We should not let this situation--nor any future actions by Vivendi or others--distract us from our goals. Our best defense is to stay focused on what we have always done best--deliver the most original and memorable gaming experiences."

Ubisoft's management have met with "a dozen potential investors" in Montreal and Toronto in an effort to "build support for the company's founders and current management."

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