According to an article from the Canadian Globe and Mail, Ubisoft is seeking investors in order to prevent a takeover from Vivendi. Vivendi is allegedly starting with GameLoft, a company owned by the founders and chief executives of Ubisoft, the Guillemot family.
Vivendi’s chairman has gobbled up a 15 percent stake in Ubisoft and recently and made a bid, which was unsolicited, to takeover GameLoft, which is owned by the Guillemots as well. The family think this is the first step in Vivendi’s plan to take over Ubisoft as well. It’s important to note that Vivendi hasn’t actually started the hostile takeover of Ubisoft. The company has been accruing lots of shares lately, which leads the Guillemots to believe that’s what Vivendi is actually striving toward, but there’s no confirmation that it will happen. But with the hostile takeover of GameLoft on the table, the family is trying to shore up a defense.
“We want to increase the number of Canadian shareholders in Ubisoft to have better control over the capital,” Yves Guillemot said in the article. “We feel it’s a good defense.”
So how can Vivendi just takeover Ubisoft if they want to? It’s called a hostile takeover and here’s how it works. It all comes down to the ownership of the company. Ubisoft, as well as a number of other game publishers, is a public company. The founders and chief executives don’t own the entire company. Anyone who holds shares in the company is a part owner. Anyone who accrues a big enough amount of shares can take over a company if the majority of the shareholders agree, whether the executives want to sell or not.
That’s why Ubisoft is seeking investors on their side – to accrue enough shares to be able to vote down any takeover led by Vivendi. The focus on Canadian investors is because two of Ubisoft’s biggest studios are in Canada, both of which have worked on the Assassin’s Creed games. Vivendi’s intentions aren’t known, but some worry that the major studios would see some house-cleaning and that some of the talent might decide to leave the company after the takeover.
The Vivendi name should sound familiar to most people who follow the actions of companies in the game industry. The company’s stake in the game industry ended when it offloaded all of its shares to Activision Blizzard. Since then, Vivendi has remained in the entertainment and media business, but not in games. This step may signal that Vivendi’s wants to get back into the industry.