[Update] Vivendi Tightens Hold On Ubisoft With Additional Stock Purchase, Ubisoft Responds
Update: Ubisoft has commented on Vivendi's continued, incremental acquisition of outstanding shares. The Assassin's Creed publisher has taken a firm stance against the action, issuing a blunt statement regarding Vivendi's latest purchase and its statement on the intention behind it.
The full statement, provided to us via email by a company representative follows:
We are not at all surprised by this latest statement from Vivendi, nor by the intent behind it.
This is a confirmation of their habitual strategy of creeping control, in which they say they have no intention to take control of Ubisoft while steadily increasing their stake and preparing an offensive at the next Annual Shareholders Meeting.
This strategy of successively announcing conflicting intentions is contrary to good corporate practices and is not in the best interests of Ubisoft’s other shareholders.
Moreover, despite our repeated written requests since they first entered into our capital, Vivendi has never presented any details or convincing plan on how this supposed cooperation would take place.
Ubisoft's management remains committed to preserving the independence of the company, which is the condition for the long-term value creation that will benefit all of our shareholders.
Vivendi has been making moves in the video game world just three years after receiving a huge buyout/bailout package from Activision to the tune of $8 billion. The company has been buying up shares of Ubisoft hinting at a hostile takeover.
The latest purchase brings Vivendi’s control to 17.73 percent of capital and 15.66 percent of voting shares, according to a Reuters report. In the letter from the company to French market regulators, Vivendi says it has “no plans” to take over the Assassin’s Creed publisher, nor will it be making a public offer for outstanding shares.
In February, Vivendi made a move to take over Gameloft. That company is owned by the Guillemot family, which also founded Ubisoft.
In the video game world, we’ve learned to interpret “no plans” as “something that could happen, but we aren’t talking about right now.” It doesn’t mean Vivendi won’t make a move on Ubisoft.
The overtures are there, and Vivendi has been making moves on Guillemot family companies for months now. And it’s been doing it with a warchest built from Activision’s emergency buyout when Vivendi was in deep financial trouble. This is a strange but fascinating cycle to watch.