Love them or hate them, I think most people would feel somewhat for French games company Ubisoft. The studio that brought you games like Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs, to the South Park games and one of my personal favourites – Child of Light, is suffering from an insidious and slow, death-by-a-thousand-cuts take-over by Vivendi.
For those not in the know, Vivendi is a “mass media” multinational corporation, who rakes in around the €2.7 billion mark in profit each year. They are based in France and have their fingers in a great many pies, from Dailymotion to Universal Music and European companies like Telecom Italia and StudioCanal – France’s largest pay-for TV company.
Vivendi have tried to dip their toe into video games previously, being the former majority stakeholder in Activision Blizzard – until Activision bought itself from Vivendi for over $8 billion. Crazy money, but it’s the world we live in.
Since, then Vivendi have been slowly buying up shares in Ubisoft, to the point that they now own 20.1% of the company and over 17% of the voting rights. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot called the purchases “unsolicited and unwelcome,” and stated the following little over a month ago:
“Vivendi has a reputation of doing creeping control on many companies and they want to do the same on our company. They just announced publicly that they want to do creeping control on our company, so it’s something we will defend, because we feel that this is going to be in favor of their shareholders instead of being in favor of all the shareholders. So that’s why we’ll continue to fight against that.
Now, for making sure that they don’t have board members on Ubisoft, it will be the decision of the shareholders.”
To make matters worse for Monsieur Guillemot, another games company owned by his family – Gameloft – recently had a majority stake bought in them, by – you guessed it – Vivendi.
Ubisoft’s goal is to remain independent, however they have stated that they are open to a merger if push came to shove. But not a merger with Vivendi…
What do you make of all of this? Is Ubisoft relenting against Vivendi a fight we can all as gamers get behind? Or could you care less? Whatever your opinion, let us know in the comments below or in the RGM Forums!