Ubisoft Is Buying Back Four Million Of Its Own Shares In Takeover Defense
Ubisoft announced a share buyback program today that lets them buy their own shares in an attempt to defend against a hostile takeover by Vivendi.
The process is a little complicated, but essentially Ubisoft has told an investment services provider to purchase four million shares on Ubisoft's behalf. The actual buyback can happen any time between now and the end of the year, but there is little any other entity can do to stop it. The Guillemot family that owns and operates Ubisoft has been fretting Vivendi's creeping influence publicly for several years.
As of September, Vivendi had 25% voting rights in Ubisoft after successfully taking over Gameloft, another company owned by the Guillemot family. By French law, a company that reaches 30% voting rights must tender a public offer, so Vivendi was on the precipice of making a move to taking over Ubisoft.
After this buyback, the Guillemot family has made it more difficult for Vivendi take over Ubisoft. If Vivendi did reach 30% but were unable to complete a purchase, they would be forced down to below that threshold, buying the Guillemot family quite a bit more time. The buyback program being instituted now is likely thanks to major successes like Ghost Recon: Wildlands and For Honor, both of which have sold incredibly well this year.
It remains to be seen what Vivendi's response is going to be, but it likely delays their plans for taking over Ubisoft before 2019.