Ubisoft prepares defences against a Hostile Takeover

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At the Ubisoft board meeting today, Ubisoft successfully defended itself from Vivendi. Vivendi had originally expressed that they desired to get their own members on the board in order to have some say in the direction and operations of Ubisoft in an attempt to wrestle control away from company founders, a method of takeover that is called Creeping control and a method that Vivendi is known for.

However, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot and Ubisoft Motion Picture CEO Gerard Guillemot were both reelected to the board along with two other members. These two new members replaced on that was outgoing and increased the number of independent members, raising the total board members to 10 – 5 founding members and 5 independent.

Vivendi’s creeping control method would have saved money for Vivendi in the long term by gaining influence over the board members, with the next opportunity to do this being a year out,  sources familiar with the situation believe that Vivendi may try for the more expensive method of doing a hostile takeover.

A Ubisoft spokesperson stated in an interview with Polygon:

“Today during our Annual General Meeting, Ubisoft shareholders expressed massive support for Ubisoft’s strategy and management. We remain focused on the execution of our strategic roadmap, which has already proven successful and which we are confident will continue to deliver great results and value for all of Ubisoft’s stakeholders. We’re also very happy to welcome two new independent directors, Frederique Dame and Florence Naviner, who will bring their expertise and know-how to Ubisoft’s Board.”

Under French law, the amount of stock a person or company can hold is capped at 30%. If any stock holder attempts to surpass this, they would have to make a public offer to  bid on the company. Vivendi currently sits at 23%.

Ubisoft has been looking for help to stop a potential buyout from various game developers and partners, and also has the backing of the Government of Quebec after an informal inquiry, however no formal inquiry has been announced. Understandably, Quebec would want to assist in making sure Ubisoft keeps their Canadian offices as they currently employ 2,700 people in Quebec and Montreal studios.