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French gaming developing studio and publisher Ubisoft faced off against Vivendi in their annual stockholders meeting yesterday. According to Polygon, the mass media company bought into the company back in October of 2015 with a 6% stake. They have since been slowly buying more and more stakes in Ubisoft, following their hostile takeover of Ubisoft’s Gameloft. Variety reports that Vivendi’s billionaire leader, Vincent Bollore, has increased their company’s stake in Ubisoft from 6% back in October 2015 to 22.8% (20% voting rights) after the Gameloft acquisition. It was said that Vivendi sought to gain more control over the operations and direction of Ubisoft.
They wanted to elect two board members, which would mark a major shift in the make-up of the board: an even split between the founding members and the independent members (5 to 5). But Ubisoft’s desire to remain independent created an intense face-off when both sides met for the annual stockholders meeting.
However, according to French reporter Chole Woitier (via Twitter), Vivendi did not get any board seat and Ubisoft instead was able to get their desired board members approved. A round of applause followed the meeting as Ubisoft’s Chairman and CEO, Yves Guillemot, was reportedly “very relieved.”
This means that Ubisoft will remain in charge of their company for the time being. However, many believe that Vivendi will still attempt their hostile takeover of the company. Polygon reports that
If Vivendi doesn’t seek to get its own people on the board during this meeting, sources familiar with the situation believe there’s a good chance the company will start its efforts for a hostile takeover.
They further note that
Earlier this month, Guillemot Brothers SE, a company made up of the five brothers who founded Ubisoft, agreed to purchase a maximum of 4,000,008 more shares of Ubisoft, or about another 3.5 percent of the company. That is on top of the 9 percent of the company the family already owned and 15 percent of the voting rights.
While Vivendi is increasing their share in Ubisoft, under French law, the total amount of stock a person or a company can hold is capped off at 30 percent. Any more than 30 percent and they are required to launch a public offer on the company. However, Ubisoft isn’t allowing Vivendi’s hostile takeover to go unnoticed. They have been busy trying to make sure their employees, shareholders, and gamers are aware of the situation, believing a takeover will likely harm the success and potential of Ubisoft as an independent developer.
For now though, it looks like Ubisoft will remain in charge of their independent company. The annual stockholders meeting did not give any more voting rights to Vivendi, but that’s not likely go to stop their agenda of taking more control of Ubisoft.