With Vivendi winning the backing of the majority of Gameloft’s shareholders, suspicions arise that the company could be looking at a hostile takeover of family company Ubisoft.
Over recent weeks, rumors have begun to spread rapidly over a suggested takeover of publisher Ubisoft by Vivendi. The company announced this month that it had increased its overall stake in the publisher, and now controls 17.73% of Ubisoft’s overall voting shares. Although Vivendi stated at the time that no takeover was planned of Ubisft as a whole, the company’s most recent attempt at an acquisition may suggest otherwise.
It has been revealed that Vivendi has now won the backing of the majority of shareholders of Gameloft, the mobile developer and publisher owned by the same Guillemot family that runs Ubisoft. Vivendi already owned a 30% stake in the company, and launched an attempt at full majority control back in February. Now, it seems as though this attempt has been successful.
The Guillemot family, however, has taken measures to try and stop this takeover from going forward. The Ubisoft owners will not tender their shares to Vivendi, and have been instead searching for outside backers to stop majority control from resting with the company. So far, however, it appears as though the family has been unsuccessful, and now the fate of Gameloft may rest on a court ruling in September focusing on Vivendi’s compliance issues.
The next move, then, may well be an attempt by Vivendi to move on to Ubisoft itself. Many suspected as much earlier this year, when news began to spread regarding a large quantity of Ubisoft shares being bought up by the company. At that point, Ubisoft reached out to a number of external parties to try and keep control of the company, but although some parties have remained strong in control of their shares, one might suspect that a good enough offer from Vivendi could cause these other shareholders to find a deal all-too enticing.
It seems as though Vivendi has been trying to re-enter the world of video games on a major scale for some time. After all, the company previously held a controlling share of Activision Blizzard until the publisher bought its own independence back in 2013. Should a takeover attempt of Ubisoft happen in the future, then Vivendi would once more have a say in the management of one of the biggest publishers in the industry.
That said, the world of video games may be set to evolve at a tremendous rate over the coming years – at least if Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot’s predictions ring true. Guillemot has suggested that there is only one more generation of consoles left to go, before streaming takes a foothold as the most popular form of gaming. Should that take place, then Vivendi could be stepping into a very different market from the one it knows.