×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Vivendi Ups Stake, Voting Rights in French Vidgame Company Ubisoft

PARIS — Following its hostile takeover of Gameloft, which sparked a faceoff with the video-game company’s owners, Vivendi is upping its stake in Ubisoft, the bigger sister company to Gameloft that produced “Assassin’s Creed” and “Splinter Cell.”

Under the leadership of billionaire Vincent Bolloré, Vivendi has increased its stake in Ubisoft by 2.7% to 22.8% and now holds 20% of the voting rights.

In its declaration to the AMF, the French securities regulator, Vivendi said it was not “considering the launch of a public tender on Ubisoft,” nor was it “considering acquiring control of the company.” Vivendi added that it was “hoping to build a fruitful cooperation with Ubisoft.”

Vivendi’s statement that it doesn’t intend to make a bid for Ubisoft means that, even if it changes its mind, it won’t be permitted to make such a bid for six months. However, it would be obligated to make a buyout offer if it held more than 30% of the company’s shares.

Vivendi also told the AFM that it was hoping to gain board representation at Ubisoft. However, the Guillemot brothers, who founded Ubisoft in 1986 and now collectively own about 9% of the company and 16% of its voting rights, are reportedly vehemently opposed to Bolloré’s presence on the board.

Back in March, Yves Guillemot even traveled to Canada seeking potential investors for Ubisoft, in order to have stronger control over the capital, according to local reports.

“Bolloré would need more than 50% of the voting rights to be guaranteed board representation, and it’s unsure whether he’ll succeed. We’ve seen how his attempt to gain a seat on the board of the British group Aegis failed due to his opposition with its owners and in spite of of the fact that he held a 29.1 % stake,” said Thomas Alzuyeta, a financial analyst at Gilbert Dupont.

“Considering the heavy price tag of Ubisoft — estimated at 3.7 billion euros [$4.1 billion] — and the risk associated, Vivendi’s investment in the vidgame company lacks much rational business-wise, and we don’t think Vivendi should spend the bulk of its 6-billion-euro war chest for the acquisition of Ubisoft,” said Alzuyeta.

In contrast, Gameloft, which Vivendi now owns, is highly promising. “Today, mobile games bring many more capitalization perspectives than console games, as we’ve just seen with Nintendo’s mobile Pokemon game,” Alzuyeta noted.

Ubisoft remains an attractive asset for Vivendi because of its international profile and top-notch franchises, such as “Assassin’s Creed,” which spurred a big-screen adaptation directed by Justin Kurzel and starring Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender (pictured above).

Acquisition by Vivendi would certainly limit Ubisoft to working with Vivendi-owned Studiocanal for financing, distribution and international sales rather than U.S. companies such as Fox, New Regency, Warner and Columbia, and with Dailymotion rather than YouTube, argued Alzuyeta.

The moves into Gameloft and Ubisoft come less than a year after the appointment of Didier Lupfer — formerly head of development and production at Ubisoft Motion Pictures — as VP of Studiocanal.

More Biz

  • Alan Horn Bill Tanner

    Alan Horn to Keynote Variety Business Managers Elite Breakfast, Bill Tanner to Be Honored

    Bill Tanner will be recognized with Variety’s 2019 Business Managers Elite Award at the annual Business Managers Elite Breakfast presented by City National Bank, which takes place in Beverly Hills on Nov. 13. Co-chairman and chief creative officer of The Walt Disney Studios Alan Horn will be the keynote speaker in conversation with Variety editor-in-chief, [...]

  • Smoke haze covers the Sydney Harbour

    Australia's Seven West to Merge With Affiliate Prime Media

    Australia’s Seven West Media has agreed a deal to acquire regional broadcast group Prime Media. The move is a further step in the consolidation of Australia’s traditional media industry. The two companies announced on Friday that Seven will make the acquisition entirely through the issue of new shares to the owners of Prime. Both companies [...]

  • Ron Meyer

    Ron Meyer Files $10 Million Suit Over Forged Rothko

    NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer has filed a $10 million suit against two art dealers, claiming they sold him a forged Mark Rothko painting in 2001. Meyer accuses Susan Seidel and Jaime Frankfort of duping him into buying the work. According to the suit, he was told that it would be included in an official [...]

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein (L)

    Harvey Weinstein Seeks to Call Expert on 'Recovered' Memories at Rape Trial

    Harvey Weinstein’s attorneys are seeking to call an expert on “recovered memories” at his trial on rape and sexual assault charges. The defense has filed a motion asking to call Deborah Davis, a psychologist and professor at the University of Nevada at Reno. Davis is a frequent defense witness. She co-authored an article in 2006 [...]

  • Tekashi 6ix9ine Docuseries Coming From Showtime

    Tekashi 6ix9ine Docuseries Coming From Showtime and Rolling Stone

    Showtime Documentary Films today announced a new limited docuseries profiling controversial rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine. Titled “SuperVillain” and inspired by the Rolling Stone feature written by Stephen Witt, the three-part series will trace how a New York City deli clerk named Daniel Hernandez became superstar rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine — who racked up 2.6 billion streams and [...]

  • Fader Label Logo

    Fader Label Signs Two New Acts, Boosts Staff

    The Fader Label, home to Clairo, Matt and Kim and others, announced two new signings today along with three new hires on its staff. Charlie Burg and Zachary Knowles have joined the label’s talent roster, while Carson Oberg has come aboard as general manager, Yasmine Panah as project manager and Josh Hymowitz as label coordinator. They [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content