There have long been rumblings about a possible hostile takeover of Ubisoft by Vivendi, with the company steadily increasing its foothold with the publisher. However, it certainly looks as though Ubisoft is trying to at least stall this potential takeover bid, as it has just announced plans to buy back up to four million of its shares.
Ubisoft has confirmed that it has granted a mandate to an as-yet-unnamed investment services provider to to handle the repurchasing of shares. The publisher of series such as Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry made this move after approval was gained during a shareholders meeting that took place at the end of last month.
The share buyback program is limited to 10% of the shares of the company, which totals an aggregate amount of around four million shares overall. This move will take place over the course of the rest of 2017, running from today through to December 29, 2017, and will no doubt aim to try and stop Vivendi’s ever-growing share of the publisher from increasing further.
Vivendi has slowly but steadily been targeting Ubisoft, with many suspecting that a takeover may have been planned as far back as early 2016 when the company started buying up Ubisoft shares in bulk. If Vivendi gains 30% of the overall shares of Ubisoft, it will be forced by French law to make a takeover bid, and the company currently sits just shy of that at 27%.
All signs certainly point towards a takeover attempt, and although Vivendi has claimed otherwise, actions speak far louder than words and it’s clear that Ubisoft is not taking the increasing influence of Vivendi lying down. At the very least, this move will temporarily halt any attempt at a hostile takeover, and surely puts out a strong message that Ubisoft is not a company that will roll over for Vivendi’s interests should an attempt be made.
Of course, Ubisoft has more than simply the threat of Vivendi to worry about at the moment, with a fair few major releases on the horizon. Indeed, with Assassin’s Creed: Origins looking to challenge players at the end of this month and Far Cry 5 still scheduled to drop in early 2018, it’s going to be a busy few months ahead for the publisher.