Vivendi Will Reportedly Pursue A Ubisoft Takeover This Year
Things may come to a head in 2017.
Ubisoft may be faced with a hostile takeover attempt before the end of the year.
Reuters reports that, in the midst of declining share prices and consternation among investors who are unsure of the company's direction, Vivendi will become more aggressive with acquisitions this year. The French media conglomerate has its eyes on more than just elements of the games industry, but Ubisoft is said to be one of its first targets, along with Havas, an advertising company it already owns 60% of.
Speaking about Ubisoft and Havas, a source told Reuters, "Vivendi is moving to the second phase; everything will take place this year." Another source said that, while Vivendi would have a limit on how much it'd be willing to spend, "The logical thing would be to buy Ubisoft."
A Vivendi shareholder meeting today saw chairman Vincent Bollore reelected to the board despite calls from some for investors to oppose the move.
It's no secret that Vivendi has been targeting Ubisoft for some time. It's slowly acquired more and more shares of the game publisher; in December, it reached the 25 percent mark (and 22 percent of voting rights). At 30 percent, French law would mandate that it pursue a controlling stake in the company.
In April of last year, Vivendi claimed it had "no plans" for a takeover of Ubisoft. To date, Vivendi has not sought representation on Ubisoft's board of directors, which seemed like a possibility ahead of a Ubisoft shareholder meeting last September.
Ubisoft and its CEO, Yves Guillemot, have expressed their vehement opposition to Vivendi's maneuvering. Guillemot has suggested a takeover would cost Ubisoft its agility and ability to take risks.
Vivendi, which once owned Activision, acquired the mobile game developer Gameloft last year. Gameloft was founded by Michel Guillemot, the brother of Yves Guillemot.
We'll continue to report back as the situation develops.