Ubisoft struggles to keep independence from mass media conglomerate
Ubisoft made a few headlines this week amidst concerns of a Vivendi takeover. European media conglomerate Vivendi has been trying to get a controlling interest in Ubisoft for some time now. Ubisoft, well-known for Assassin’s Creed and other franchises, feared a hostile takeover and has bought some of its shares back to block Vivendi.
Ubisoft held a meeting last Thursday, and in an unexpected turn of events, Vivendi chose not to nominate any of its own people to the board. This allowed CEO Yves Guillemot and his brother Gerard Guillemot to be re-elected to the board. The publisher was also able to appoint the independent directors it nominated back in June.
At the meeting, Vivendi did not make any proposals, and none of its representatives spoke during the Q&A session. Vivendi did not vote on resolutions "related to employee stock grants and options," preventing them from passing. Ubisoft has called the move “systematic obstruction”, referring to its competitive compensation policy for employees.
“Vivendi holds 23 percent of Ubisoft’s shares.”
Right now, Vivendi holds 23 percent of Ubisoft’s shares. Vivendi is suspected to be planning a hostile takeover like that of the former Guillemot owned publisher Gameloft earlier this year. Ubisoft is doing what it can to avoid such a takeover, including seeking outside support to keep its independence.
Ubisoft has also promised they will put more time and effort into certain franchises, and will be moving Assassin's Creed away from yearly releases. Yves Guillemot even stated publicly that Ubisoft would sell itself to a competitor before falling under Vivendi’s control.