The battle between Vivendi and Ubisoft continues.
Today, Ubisoft announced a bid to increase their board of directors to ten, announcing two new independent directors that will need to be approved at the annual Shareholders meeting on September 29th; Frédérique Dame and Florence Naviner. Both will replace the retiring independent director Estelle Metayer.
According to Ubisoft in a press release, Dame is an angel investor in Silicon Valley and helped grow the car service Uber over the past four years. Naviner is the current chief financial officer and senior vice president of Wrigley, which is a subsidiary of Mars Incorporated.
According to Ubisoft co-founder Yves Guillemont, “Their international careers are perfectly consistent with the profile of Ubisoft, which generates more than 90% of its revenues abroad. They will bring Ubisoft valuable and complementary experience.”
The move is being reported as an attempt to curtail the growing presence of Vivendi, which has recently increased their ownership in the company to 20%. Guillemont and several other high ranking officials at Ubisoft have been battling the growing of presence of Vivendi for months now after the company purchased a piece of Ubisoft and their subsidiary Gameloft back in October of last year.
If the current announcement with Dame and Naviner is approved, it would increase their independent board of directors to five members out of ten. This would dilute the growing presence of Vivendi, who has requested that current chairman of their advisory board, Vincent Bolloré join the board of directors as they believe that would be consistent with their ownership percentage.
Recently, Vivendi COO Stéphane Roussel was appointed as the CEO of Gameloft. ‘”I start my role today with an ambitious plan: to combine your creative passion with Vivendi’s to accelerate Gameloft’s development.” stated Roussel upon his appointment. The move comes as an unsurprising, but unwelcome one to the CEO’s of Ubisoft, who have stated publically that they do not want Vivendi to encroach on their company. “We don’t want them sitting on the board, because they’re implementing a creeping control strategy to take over the company,” stated Guillemont last month in an interview with Le Monde.
From 2007 to 2013, Vivendi was the majority shareholder for Activision-Blizzard, which Vivendi formed in 2008. In 2013, Activision-Blizzard announced that they would buy back over 429 million shares from the company, totaling $5.83 billion, and dropping them from owning a majority stake in the company (63% at the time) to only 11% of the shares. In early 2016, Vivendi officially withdrew from Activision-Blizzard, selling the rest of its shares for $1.1 billion.
So what are your thoughts on all of this? Leave your comments below.