The Strategist

Ubisoft takes a stand for independence

06/24/2016 - 15:24

French media conglomerate Vivendi does not want to stop embodying long-term plans for capture of its compatriot Ubisoft, specializing in development and publishing of video games.

map via flickr
map via flickr
Earlier this month, Vivendi took control over Gameloft, a mobile games developer owned by Michel Guillemot, brother of Yves Guillemot, who, in turn, manages Ubisoft.

Now, Vivendi said it "intends to continue to buy shares", and is going to occupy a seat in the board of directors, which "corresponds to the share in the company." However, according to Vivendi, the company did not want to fully absorb Ubisoft: their plan was just a "good cooperation" with the company’s existing management.

Ubisoft, however, regards Vivendi’s interest in buying a stake in the company as a highly undesirable and serious threat.

At the recently held E3, Yves Guillemot concluded the press conference in an unusual way, by inviting all present heads of the company’s departments on stage. Having his staff behind his back, Guillemot made a defiant speech that though the 30-year anniversary is a major date for their company, it is going to stand for another 30 years, or even more:  

"I love video games for the magic that happens when our staff and players have an opportunity to freely create something new, are free to express themselves, and be free to do what they want. This is what has brought us here today, and that will push us forward for the next 30 years. Because as long as you are free, there is no failure, only progress."

Most likely, this fiery speech was addressed to holders of Ubisoft’s shares, who were asked to maintain their share, not to sell it to Vivendi. Well, love for video games is unlikely to stop some of them, in case Vivendi offers good money.

Late last year, Vivendi acquired a 6% stake in Ubisoft, which had not pleased the French game publisher’s manager. Ubisoft announced that Vivendi would try to change policy of the gaming company, what will have a negative impact on new projects.

"We are going to fight for preservation of our independence, we must not allow Vivendi or other companies to distract us from our goals, we need to focus on what we have always done best - to produce original and memorable games," - said Head of Ubisoft, adding that Ubisoft’s absorption by Vivendi will negatively affect reputation of the publishing house. If this happens, Ubisoft will be "managed by people who do not understand our concept and how it is to become successful in the industry."

After this statement, Vivendi acquired another 4% of Ubisoft, and now owns more than 10% of the French publisher’s shares.

Previously, Vivendi also owned a large number of Activision Blizzard’s shares. Later, however, the company held a buyback, and decided not to go to the stock exchange anymore, having defended its independence. 


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