TR Member Perks!

In one of the ongoing business conflicts in the gaming industry, Vivendi has continued buying up more shares of Ubisoft despite the latter’s vocal protests. After purchasing out Gameloft and getting the Guillemot family to sell the remaining shares in it, Vivendi spent more of its money to cross the important 20% mark of ownership in Ubisoft, including nearly 18% voting rights.

At 20%, according to French law, the multi-media giant had to explain what its objectives were over the coming 6 months to the French securities. Here’s a brief rundown of what they put in:

  • They have been using disposable cash
  • They are not acting with any third party
  • They are considering buying further shares depending on market conditions
  • However, they are not considering a public tender or acquiring control of Ubisoft
  • Vivendi wants board seat(s) consistent with its shareholder status
  • Finally, and one point that may raise some eyebrows as Vivendi says it’s, “part of a strategic vision of operational convergence between Vivendi’s content and platform and Ubisoft’s productions in the field of video games”.

However, Ubisoft does not appear to be happy with this state of affairs. While we have seen them speak out against Vivendi before, they are adding some actions to that now. In addition to considering investing their Gameloft sales in acquiring more shares, Ubisoft has created an employee shareholding operation called UBI’s MMO PLAN 2016. Essentially this allows employees to buy shares in the company and support it as they offer shares that Ubisoft bought back starting in September 2015. The offer is open for a while, with an expected end of August 19th and there are some conditions applied to it. There is a minimum investment amount of 25 Euro and no person can invest more than one-quarter of what they earn. The number of shares available is relatively small, with only 3% of the company’s share capital available in this way but that equates to 3,371,634 shares overall and they are available at a 15% discount for the employees in share price.

Additionally, Yves Guillemot, the co-founder, and CEO of Ubisoft has said that while their first plan of action is to remain totally independent, they do have a Plan B in place. While their primary plan has them working with investors to get them on board to fight off Vivendi, their secondary plan would be merging with another group such as a gaming or technology firm. Guillemot has maintained that Vivendi is incompatible with Ubisoft, perhaps because of his views that Vivendi doesn’t know the industry and is older in mindset.

Update:

A reader asked who Vivendi is and we realized that we left that out, so here’s a quick primer on who they are. Vivendi is a large multi-media company that owns numerous properties, staying behind the scenes typically. They previously owned Activision-Blizzard, until they bought themselves out when Vivendi had some monetary issues. Some of the properties they own include the Universal Music Group, streaming site Dailymotion and the Canal+ group – which is the largest French Pay TV provider, and owns Studio Canal which has the world’s third-largest film library.

There are others, but those three provide an idea of just how big Vivendi is as a company.


Quick Take

This situation is fascinating to watch evolve overall as Vivendi moved faster on Gameloft than anyone expected and while it’s saying it will not take over Ubisoft, its actions make one wonder there. It puts a lot of pressure on Ubisoft to keep performing commercially with their games as any failure may rock shareholder confidence and that’s the last thing they need with Vivendi right there poised to potentially exploit it. It’s also important to note that the Vivendi objectives are over the next 6 months, thus it may be looking in the longer or midterm at a takeover if Ubisoft doesn’t co-operate with it.


Don Parsons

News Editor

I've been a gamer for years of various types starting with the Sega Genesis and Shining Force when I was young. If I'm not playing video games, I'm often roleplaying, reading, writing, or pondering things brought up by speculative fiction.



  • Galbador

    Not that I care for Ubisoft, but are those good or bad news for them?

  • No matter what you think about Ubisoft, Vivendi needs to be kept as far away from gaming as possible. The last time they controlled a gaming studio was Activision/Blizzard from ~2007 to ~2013. They ran all of Activision’s good series into the ground by releasing too many half-baked games too close to one another, and are responsible for the annualization of games.

    Even if you don’t like Activision either, they crashed the Skate series and Rock Band by extension because of Activision’s constant spamming of games in their genres.

  • Gargie

    (I dont anything about stocks but) Cant ubisoft do something do devalue it stocks or like take them off of the stock market or buy them up themselves?

  • coboney

    Likely to be bad news – Activision had a lot of trouble when under Vivendi as Pirate Bear discusses there

  • coboney

    Let’s take these points one by one
    1) Can they Devalue the stocks? – Not directly but by releasing bad games they could or shaking confidence. However, that would harm them potentially here as Vivendi could buy more shares cheaper.
    2) Can they take them off the stock market? No, Ubisoft is a publicly traded company.
    3) Can they buy their own stocks? Yes, and Ubisoft and the Guillemot family have been doing some of that. However, it appears that it is likely to be too expensive to buy up most of it given the way things are going directly but they are looking at putting what they got from Gameloft in there, have bought up some more already, and the Employee Offering situation would likely put that money into buying back more shares from other sources.

  • goodguya

    Activision bought themselves OUT of Vivendi. Even if you go with the idea that Activision is evil and irredeemable, why would they distance themselves from a large financial partner?

    Truth is that the French publishers that sprang up in the late 90s have done nothing good for the video games industry. They exist as IP collectors and corporate holdings without any desire to revitalize their bought brands. See the Infogrames Atari to see exactly how much this can go wrong.

    Vivendi particularly has shut down loads of its subsidiaries, most of which they bought from media companies. Vivendi is not good news.

  • Galbador

    In that case… YES!!

  • Reptile

    “1) Can they Devalue the stocks? – Not directly but by releasing bad games”
    Is that working already? Because we already got a bunch of bad games in the past years.

  • Reptile

    Haha shame on Vivendi, Ubisoft already threw its franchises into the ground by releasing them either too close to one another, half baked or both. 2 L8 M8.

  • coboney

    No – overall Ubisofts stock has gone up in general with a down bump after unity that managed to rebound. Stuff like The Division might be considered a poor game but financially it appears to be a success