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This past week has been pretty hard for Ubisoft. First, there was the threat of a possible hostile takeover, and now they are being fined for insider trading. French stock market regulators have fined five executives a total of 1.2 million euros (about $1.26 million) for selling stocks based on insider knowledge. Authorities say Ubisoft of Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat and four other Ubisoft execs all sold stocks on the weeks leading up to October 15th, 2013. That date is significant, because that was when Ubisoft announced delays on both Watch Dogs and The Crew, pushing both games back to 2014.
Following the announcement of the delays, Ubisoft’s stock dropped about 25 percent. Authorities allege that the accused execs knew about this delay when they sold their stocks. The Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), an independent body that monitors and regulates the French stock market, fined the executives various amounts, with Mallat getting hit with the largest fine of 700,000 euros. Ubisoft told Kotaku that they intend to fight the AMF’s decision, saying that those executives weren’t in a position to know about the delays when they sold their shares. An Ubisoft spokesperson said that the company “continues to assert that the people involved acted in good faith.”
These fines couldn’t have come at a worse time for Ubisoft, seeing as it is already dealing with a serious threat to its independence as a publisher. The multinational corporation Vivendi announced recently that it had increased its stake in Ubisoft to 25%, bringing with it the possibility of a hostile takeover.