Media giant Vivendi has increased its stake in French publisher Ubisoft days after wrestling away control of sister firm Gameloft from the Guillemot family.
Vivendi has been planning a hostile takeover for Gameloft - the mobile publisher founded by the Guillemots, who are also in charge at Ubisoft - for some time, and just before E3 the move was completed. Despite an attempt to get a court order blocking Vivendi's offer for Gameloft, CEO Michel Guillemot (brother of Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot) has resigned from his position and the family have reluctantly agreed to sell their stake.
The worry for the Guillemot clan is that Vivendi will now perform the same trick with Ubisoft - something that has been feared for quite some time. Under French law, once a buyer has reached a 30 percent share of a company's stock, they must tender a public offer.
Vivendi now owns now owns 20.1 percent of Ubisoft's stock following another purchase prior to E3. Vivendi also intends to buy even more, and has asked for a seat on Ubisoft's board - something the Guillemot family is currently resisting. However, in a statement released on Friday, Vivendi said it wants to enter a "fruitful cooperation" with publisher and does not intend to take over the company.
So what does this all mean? Essentially, if Vivendi does purchase over 30 percent of Ubisoft's stock and force a hostile takeover, the Guillemots will be forced out of the firm they have worked so hard to create. That would mean a change of leadership which could be detrimental to the company. It would allow Vivendi to leverage Ubisoft's massive catalogue of properties for its own means - the company is involved in all forms of media, including film, music and - of course - video games.
The only thing I know for sure: I want to play that game...
Ubisoft are over as an independent company, I think it's safe to say. Vivendi will make that purchase sooner or later, just a question of when.
I wonder how long it'll be until the others end up being eyed such as EA, by big conglomerates.
Well, that sucks.
In France, Vivendi leader (Vincent Bolloré) has a pretty awful reputation. He's known for having bought one of the most popular french television channels (Canal+) and screwed it up by canceling the most political or controversial shows, firing a lot of the viewer's favorite hosts, and cancelling documentaries about Vivendi's darkest business (especially in Africa).
TL;DR Vivendi leader is the king of censorship
And I think no one wants him to own Ubisoft...
I have no real love for Ubisoft or anything, but moves like this are almost always the beginning of the end for a company, so I hope this doesn't happen. And that 'fruitful' relationship comment is just a politically correct phrase to lull the masses to sleep and give them some false sense of security, but we all know what it really means.
Them wanting a seat on the board says more than enough. Expect games to either have even more bugs when done by Vivendi or expect entire series to disappear altogether...
Come to think of it, I wouldn't mind if Just Dance disappeared off the face of the Earth forever, but knowing Vivendi, that will probably be one of the titles that they would actually keep...
I guess there has to be a valid reason why hostile takeovers are allowed in the business world.
But until I know what that reason is I am going to continue to believe they shouldn't be allowed. Because common sense dictates as such.
Yeah, Ubi isn't a perfect company, but once in a while they are able to release a pretty decent game. Hostile take-overs like this are never a good sign. Don't hope it'll happen, but Vivendi can do whatever they want at this point.
30% seems a ridiculous figure what if the other person held 70%, how would that work?
@A01 what if the current owners aren't generating sufficient value for shareholders and they convince said shareholders they would do better (in this case, paying out a premium on the share price would be a strong inducement to sell?
Also, there's nothing inherently illogical or wrong about a hostile takeover, and it's part and parcel of being a public company. If the Guillemots didn't want this, they shouldn't have taken the company public and/or should have taken it back to private (but they won't do that, because that's not where the money is)--iow, you live by the sword, you die by the sword.
Heck, there's nothing even inherently "hostile" about it, and since most people have no idea what the "hostile" part means--most assume it's some sort of business version of storming the castle walls, raping and pillaging--but it simply means management doesn't want the takeover, but everyday shareholders--including banks, investment firms, and mom and pop-- might very well want it because they see a potential share price premium being worth the sale, and since the 'public' do in fact own a huge chunk of the company, they have every right to sell to the highest bidder since those shares are in fact, their property.
Furthermore, given what happened to Activision-Blizzard under Vivendi's ownership*, shareholders should be more-than-willing to hear whatever the suitor has to say--'hostile' or otherwise.
*Acti-Blizz' value skyrocketed during Vivendi's ownership. They also didn't ruin them--see Blizzard--during their 'reign', so this bizarre anti-Vivendi response is just that--bizarre. It isn't like Ubi hasn't been notorious for years for shipping games that aren't finished and/or are completely broken, so odds are it isn't going to get much worse, even if VIvendi were inclined to meddle.
So is this good news or bad news?
@ThanosReXXX no JustDance is a lot of fun. My girlfriend loves to dance to her favorite songs
As much as I dislike Ubisoft this sounds terrible. As flawed as Ubisoft is, I can imagine things are going to get worse if this goes through. This is a hostile takeover, plane and simple. There's just no other way of looking at it.
Sure Vivendi was there for the Activision/Blizzarrd boom, but Activision/Blizzard got out of it because Vivendi was bleeding money wanting to tap in to A/V's cash. They were more of a problem than a solution.
Usually the logic behind hostile takeovers is that you can wrangle control away from a bad managed firm and improve it with your resources - at least in textbooks.
Sadly, in reality we face a completely different scenario. Many big conglomerates prefer buying external companies than developing in house talent, and they don't care if the owners agree or not. Well, Ubi can still try a poison pill defense, but I don't think it will get Vivendi out of their backs
@TMG44 Well, you don't really need a game to do that, you can dance to your favorite music anytime and anywhere you want without ever having to touch a game console.
But my disguised criticism was more aimed at Ubisoft's stupid decision to announce their dancing game for NX, sparking an enormous amount of negative and needless speculation on how this must "surely" mean that the NX is going to be a really weak machine with next to no third party support.
Say what you will about Ubisoft and their games, but this takeover would be one of the worst things to happen in gaming history
Someone needs to stop these guys.
That or the Guillemots should just leave and take everyone with them and start a new company that's basically the same but with a different name, and no issuing of shares. Go privately owned like Valve. Or something like that.
Considering the state Ubisoft's games are released in and the overall disdain they show for their customers, I can't imagine Vivendi taking over changing anything. Ubisoft has been hands down one of the worst publishers in gaming for quite some time but for some strange reason they always seem to get a pass.
You can't ruin a company that's already done a very thorough job of ruining itself. There's nowhere to go but up for Ubisoft with this purchase.
@Allspice Sure, they've been very inconsistent (and I still bemoan the fact that they ever unleashed the Raving Rabbids on the unsuspecting world), but they've also released some real gems like their last two Rayman games and "Child of Light." Calling them one of the worst is really stretching it.
Ubisoft by itself is already the company that delayed Rayman Legends just to chicken out of the exclusivity deal, with is already an EA-ish (or Activision-ish, if you're so inclined) thing to do.
I shudder at the thought of them being owned by an even bigger company.
All I know, is that I don't know anything about business stuff. It sounds like the Guillemots are trying to resist being cutout of their own companies. Very bad for them, but I don't know what else this could entail.
I do know that businesses that advertise "Now under new management!" are sometimes causes for alarm. But at the same time, if it happens frequently over the course of 20 years, like the apartment complex I used to live, it doesn't alwys mean it's past the point of no return. It's just businesses thinking they can improve on an established business, and finding out they can't quite top them. Sometimes, it can also be low-balling as bait for selling the property and getting out of that venture. It's obvious this isn't the case with Ubisoft, but I wonder just how bad this could be afterall.
@AlexSora89 Yeah Ubisoft(and also Gameloft) already participate in things strongly associated with corporate takeovers. Reasons to be afraid of a corporate takeover:
1. Rushing out games to meet holiday seasons(Assassins Creed)
2. Saturating on almost entirely proven genres(All those Tom Clancy Online, multipler open world shooter games) and gameplay(open world, towers, map icons)
3. Shipping games knowingly in a buggy unfinished state(Assassin's Creed)
4. Microtransactions in a full priced game(Ubisoft)
5. Focus on cheapo copies almost entirely copes of popular games(Gameloft)
Beyond an interesting title here or there Ubisoft might as well already be owned by Vivendi.
Not to mention one of the primary symptoms of corporate-itis: being "great Nintendo fans" in every instance of PR-speak.
Just give me for honor and its obligatory three sequels first please. And somebody make beyond good and evil 2 please!
@Morph In sure if one individual/partners were to own 70% of a company's stock they could easily outbid/out do any public offering or takeover attempt by the party holding only 30%.
@Dark-Link73 depends on if they have the cash or not doesn't it, 30% doesn't seem like any figure I've ever heard of that allows you take over a company. 51% is usually the controlling interest, and 70% is usually the point at which you tender an offer for the whole company.
@BulbasaurusRex It's not game quality I'm talking about, they do release decent games. I'm talking about their actions. Review embargoes, always online DRM, microtransactions in full price $60 titles, Uplay, outright lying even after they were caught lying (look up TotalBiscuit's videos on Watch_Dogs for more on that) etc. Blatant anti-consumer practices like those are the things that make them one of the worst. EA gets torn apart for doing some of those same things, why shouldn't Ubisoft?
As long as Beyond Good and Evil 2 (and 3?) get made I could care less if Ubisoft gets bought out or even exists. If nothing else the IP they own can get picked up by developers who actually wish to do something with them. I can say the same about Sega.
And that's bad?! Ubisoft doesn't get gobbled up if they don't want to!!
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