Ubisoft seeking Canadian investors to fend off hostile Vivendi takeover

Patrick O'Rourke

February 26, 2016 1:12pm

Ubisoft, the video game development studio and publisher behind the popular Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed franchises, has reportedly reached out to Canadian investors in an effort to fend off a hostile takeover from Vivendi, a French media conglomerate.

Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft’s CEO, has reportedly already met with Quebec Premiere Philippe Couillard to discuss future provincial investment in the company, according to a report stemming from The Globe and Mail. The video game publisher has also met with private investors in both Montreal and Toronto in an effort to find the required investment to remain independent.

“We want to increase the number of Canadian shareholders in Ubisoft to have better control over the capital,” said Guillemot in an interview with the publication.

In 2014, various government subsidies related to Ubisoft, as well as the broader video game industry in Quebec, were “analyzed” as the province’s government threatened to limit funding. Many of these proposed cuts however, never came to fruition. Ubisoft has three development studios in Canada: Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Quebec and Ubisoft Toronto.

Last week Vivendi purchased 6.6 percent of Ubisoft’s stock for €140.3 million, and the conglomerate’s billionaire chairman, Vincent Bolloré, owns a 15 percent personal stake in the French publisher. Vivendi reportedly began purchasing shares in Ubisoft late last year.

In a leaked internal email, Yves Guillemot addressed concerns regarding a possible Vivendi takeover. The internal note, obtained by GamesIndustry.bizassures Ubisoft employees the the developer will resist Vivendi’s takeover attempts.

“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,” said Guillemot in the email.

In a separate internal email, also obtained by gameindustry.biz, Guillemot stated that he doesn’t want Ubisoft to be “managed by people who don’t understand our expertise and what it takes to succeed in this industry.”

Vivendi recently launched a mandatory takeover bid of mobile video game publisher Gameloft, which is owned by Yves Guillemot’s brother Michael Guillemot, after purchasing over 30 percent of the company’s stock. Vivendi’s move to take over Gameloft is believed to be an attempt to force talks with the Guillemot family as a broader effort to take over Ubisoft.

At one point Vivendi had a controlling stake in Activision-Blizzard, but a Bobby Kotick-led consortium was able to stage a successful bid for independence.

Ubisoft is considered one of the top five video game publishers in the world. Montreal is home to the company’s largest global studio. In total, the company employs more than 3,000 people in Montreal, Quebec, Toronto and Halifax. Ubisoft’s most recently release is Far Cry Primal.

Image credit: Wikicommons

  • If they get taken over, I hope it doesn’t affect the Canadian jobs.

    If they get taken over and it helps with game development and deadlines without jobs lost, not a bad thing at all.

    • bdap

      It can be very bad, as stated in the article “doesn’t want to be managed by people who don’t understand our expertise and what it takes to succeed in this industry.” Vivendi can mismanage the company which will lead to it’s destruction, which will lead to layoffs, etc.

  • Ricky Bobby

    Anything Activision touches turns into #!%&. I used to love Blizzard and their products until they adopted Activision’s “Pay more for less” philosphy

  • Eluder

    At least it’s not another American company taking them over. Getting tired of that happening.

    • Chong Jin

      UBI is a french company, and Vivendi is also a French Company, meanwhile, Vivendi is the biggest initial investor of UBI soft……so, well, doesnt really matter

  • Andrew

    Vivendi seemed to do a good job with buying Activision and Blizzard to create Activision Blizzard and running the show. With the current games that Ubisoft is putting out (not a complement) a Vivendi take over might have many benefits.

    • Marc Palumbo

      Yup. I think it all started when they released Assassin’s Creed 3. From there, it was all garbage.

    • Marc, have you played AC 4? That game is baller status A++, especially the naval combat.

    • Marc Palumbo

      I did. I own it, but I found that the naval combat didn’t fit the AC style of play. I mean, the whole point of AC is to investigate and kill a target. I used to love the AC2 trilogy because I found the story of Miles to be interesting, but the yearly releases started to be too much for me. Then AC5 happened on XBox One and I didn’t even consider buying it.

  • Tommy Crosby

    The real question is, will they stop using uPlay?

    • whats wrong with uplay? I dont mind getting benefits from game to game. Ea has Origin. .. . . Go buy from steam if you want steam. Oh that is just Valve and their store.

  • It makes me happy to know when I buy a Ubisoft game I support Canada! I will buy more games from this company. Any ways my point. Just have the Federal Government block any external merge or purchase attempts.

    • Andrew

      Ubisoft is based out of France, it is not a Canadian company. It would be no different than buying a BioWare game who has studios in Edmonton, but is a US company (through EA).