Vivendi ups stake in Ubisoft to 20.1 percent, hostile takeover could be imminent


The writing has been on the wall for several months, but today Vivendi inched closer to gaining a controlling stake in French video game developer and publisher Ubisoft.

French media conglomerate Vivendi has upped its stake in Ubisoft to 20.1 percent and has made its intention to unite Gameloft and Ubisoft under one unified brand known. Vivendi recently successfully took over Gameloft less than a few weeks ago, a move that was seen by many as a precursor to an eventual assault on Ubisoft’s independence.

If Vivendi gains a 30 percent stake in Ubisoft, French law dictates that the conglomerate must launch an official takeover bid, though the company states it does not intend to takeover all of Ubisoft’s operations.

“Vivendi is not considering the launch of a public tender on Ubisoft nor acquiring the control of the company; [although we are] considering continuing to acquire shares depending on market conditions,” writes Vivendi in a recent statement. Vivendi is however “asking for a recomposition of the Ubisoft Board of Directors in order to, among other things, obtain Board representation consistent with its shareholder position.” The company says that it hopes to forge a “fruitful cooperation with Ubisoft.”

Ubisoft and Gameloft are owned by the Guillemot family and both companies have a significant presence in Canada. Ubisoft has key development studios located in Toronto, Quebec City and Montreal. Mobile-focused developer Gameloft has studios in Montreal and Toronto. It’s unclear how a Vivendi takeover in the region would affect Ubisoft’s Canadian operations.

In the aftermath of the hostile Gameloft take over, the Guillemot family released the following statement, “The family maintains that Vivendi’s hostile approach goes against the best interest of Gameloft, both for its activity and for its teams.”

During E3 this year Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot gave a passionate speech about the importance of creativity in the video game industry.

“I love video games because the real innovation and magic comes when our teams and players are free to create,” said Guillemot.

“Free to innovate. Free to express themselves. Free to take risks and have fun. That’s what got us here today, and that’s what will drive us for another thirty years and beyond.”

Related reading: Vivendi successfully takes over mobile game studio Gameloft