Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry developer Ubisoft has found itself in an unusual position. Company CEO Yves Guillemot has issued a call for Canadian investors to help prevent a hostile takeover bid from digital media giant Vivendi S.A. The goal is to increase Canadian ownership of the company, which makes most of its games in the country.
Vivendi is one of the largest multi-national media companies in the world. It owns a minority stake in Activision-Blizzard, owns most of media streaming site Daily Motion, and completely owns Universal Music. Vivendi Chairman Vincent Bolloré has steadily increased his stake in Ubisoft to 15-percent and has initiated a $750-million (about RM3.2 billion) hostile takeover of Gameloft – which also happens to be owned by Guillemot and his brothers.
At the moment, Ubisoft founder Guillemot and his brothers own about 9-percent of the company. They also have support from major shareholders Blackrock and Fidelity, who own 15-percent of the stock. However, Guillemot believes that he needs support from at least 50-percent of the votes to block Vivendi from making changes during the next annual shareholder meeting.
Ubisoft has said that it would welcome investments from the Quebec and Ottawa governments in an attempt to increase support. The two Canadian states are home to Ubisoft’s largest development studios. Ubisoft’s management has also met with investors from Switzerland and London as the company attempts to hold off the impending takeover bid.
Analysts are saying that Vivendi is taking a massive risk in attempting the hostile takeover. The danger is that the best talent from Ubisoft’s studios may walk out as a result of the deal, leaving the company crippled and reduce the quality of its games.
Vivendi recently got out of the video game business when it reduced its stock in Activision-Blizzard to about 10-percent. In this case, it looks like the company wants to get back to making games; and has decided that Ubisoft will suit its plans.
[Source: The Globe and Mail]