Ubisoft seeking Canadian investors to fend off hostile Vivendi takeover


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

[source]The Globe and Mail, gameindustry.biz[/source]