One of 2016’s most important business battles continues to take place as media corporation Vivendi has continued to buy up more shares of game publisher and developer Ubisoft, announcing yesterday that they had crossed the 25% threshold of ownership. This continues Vivendi’s continual pressure on Ubisoft in a strategy that is called creeping control, wherein the purchaser tries to acquire the other company little by little, without causing a hostile take over or unduly alarming the target of acquisition. Vivendi has used this strategy in the past, including earlier this year on mobile publisher Gameloft, who was also run by members of the Guillemot family who run Ubisoft.
Earlier this year, we reported that Vivendi had passed the 20% threshold, which under french law requires them to announce their plans for the next six months. At that time, they said that they were seeking representation on Ubisoft’s board of directors, were considering acquiring more shares, and were not planning to launch a public tender. In the most recent announcement, they shared that they now own 25.15% of Ubisoft’s shares, including 22.92% of the voting rights and that they continue to seek the same goals. By French law, if they pass the 30% mark, they have to make a takeover offer, something Ubisoft is vehemently against. Earlier this year, they opted not to press too much for representation on the board of directors as Ubisoft shook up their board with several new members and positions in September but pointedly did not add anyone from Vivendi.
In a comment to VentureBeat, Ubisoft gave the following statement regarding Vivendi’s actions:
This is another indication that Vivendi is continuing its ill-advised and value-destructive approach of attempting to take creeping control of companies like Ubisoft. As we’ve said previously, we are undeterred by these actions and remain focused on providing the best experiences to our players and fans, and to delivering long-term value for all of our shareholders.
As always we are monitoring this situation and will update if we learn more.