It wasn't long ago we heard #Vivendi was engaging in a hostile takeover of #Gameloft, resulting in Gameloft founders the Guillemot family selling their stake in their company to the mass media conglomerate. But the acquisition is not over yet for the Guillemots, with Vivendi having increased its shares in Ubisoft to 25.15 percent, giving it a controlling stake and voting rights for the French video game publishers.
While this all may sound doom and gloom for Ubisoft, the company is protected by French law, which states that a company must cap out at a 30 percent share before they can publicly offer to take hold of the company at a reasonable price. This strategy is not as aggressive as the takeover of Gameloft, which saw a 29 percent purchase of shares within a small amount of time, resulting in CEO Michel Guillemot resigning as president of the company he helped to found.
Some may have breathed a sigh of relief on Wednesday when Ubisoft filed a declaration with the French securities regulator, stating that:
Vivendi is not considering the launch of a public tender on Ubisoft nor acquiring the control of the company;
Vivendi is hoping to build a fruitful cooperation with Ubisoft.
While Vivendi went on to insist that its stock purchases are merely a part of a strategic vision of working with Ubisoft, we can only wonder what will happen if Vivendi buys more shares in order to "among other things, obtain Board representation consistent with its shareholder position," according to the statement.
You can read the rest of Vivendi's press release here.
Regardless of what Vivendi says in an attempt to placate fears, this takeover of Ubisoft should raise red flags for those who know how publicly traded companies work. Indeed, in a report from The Wall Street Journal, CEO Yves Guillemot said that "we won't relax until they sell their shares. The creeping control strategy implemented by Vivendi is dangerous. We think that there's a great risk of shareholders losing value."
Following the hostile takeover of Gameloft, the Guillemots are well aware that Vivendi could very well take over Ubisoft and once again force the family out of another of their companies.
Ubisoft is known for being an independent, innovative company that allows its pool of creative talent to flourish and developers to work at their own pace. It's this free-flowing environment that's largely responsible for the success of such franchises as #AssassinsCreed and #TomClancy.
As Vivendi potentially takes over, there are real fears that new and future games could be torn apart by the Vivendi work model, which seems to be more focused on dollars than the gaming experience. With the #NintendoSwitch just around the corner and a healthy amount of Ubisoft games headed to this new console, we can only hope that Vivendi seeks a new partnership with Ubisoft, not a takeover.
Do you think Ubisoft's partnership with Vivendi could prove useful?