Update September 30, 2016: Last night all eyes were on Ubisoft and Vivendi as the French publisher held its stockholder meeting - a meeting where Vivendi was expected to make a bid for the board of directors.
Vivendi had previously stated intentions to get someone on the board so it could have some say when it comes the Ubisoft's operations. However, Vivendi offered no resolutions prior to, or during, the meeting.
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Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot and Ubisoft Motion Picture CEO Gerard Guillemot were both reelected to the board and two new members were elected instead.
One outgoing member was replaced and a new independent member bolstered the board, increasing Ubisoft's board to a total of ten, with five independent and five founders.
Since the next meeting about board elections isn't due for a year, Vivendi will have to change tactics if it wants to wrestle control away from Ubisoft, by instead initiating a hostile takeover.
“Today during our Annual General Meeting, Ubisoft shareholders expressed massive support for Ubisoft’s strategy and management," a Ubisoft spokesperson told Polygon yesterday.
"We remain focused on the execution of our strategic roadmap, which has already proven successful and which we are confident will continue to deliver great results and value for all of Ubisoft’s stakeholders. We’re also very happy to welcome two new independent directors, Frederique Dame and Florence Naviner, who will bring their expertise and know-how to Ubisoft’s Board.”
Original Story September 27, 2016: Ubisoft likes being independent. Vivendi, however, appears to want to challenge that, taking the French publishing giant for itself. That's if you take its recent run of buying up shares in the company as a sign of a larger intent to take control of Ubisoft full stop, of course.
As of June, Vivendi currently owns around 20 percent of Ubisoft shares and has been openly demanding for a spot on the company’s board as a result - a matter Ubisoft is yet to resolve.
In response, the latest news is that Ubisoft is fighting back. The company has just acquired €122.5 million of its own stock from French investment bank Bpifrance, adding another 3.2 per cent to its own hand. The move comes just ahead of a meeting to determine how to respond to Vivendi’s boardroom request, suggesting it’s an intentional move to weaken its potential suitor’s position.
"We want to express our warm gratitude to Bpifrance for its support during all these years,” said Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft co-founder and CEO, of the deal. The publisher recently declared itself as the most profilic in 2016 to date, with The Division the biggest selling game of the year so far.
Back in June, Vivendi said it was “considering asking for a recomposition of the Ubisoft Board of Directors” in order to “obtain Board representation consistent with its shareholder position”. The suggestion is, Vivendi wants a say on Ubisoft’s board in order to steer the company towards a full blown take over.
As a last resort, it’s been hinted that the talent that powers Ubisoft may well jump ship to the likes of EA and Activision if Vivendi pushes forward with any attempt to buy the publisher. This is reportedly the tactic Ubisoft employed in 2004 at the height of speculation suggesting EA was preparing a takeover bid.
Vivendi, however, doesn’t appear to be going anywhere any time soon. The company needs a 30 percent share of Ubisoft in order to trigger a mandatory takeover bid. Expect this one to run and run.