Vivendi prepares for Ubisoft takeover, reports claims

The saga of Vivendi’s encroaching interest in French publisher Ubisoft could be on the verge of reaching a head with a full acquisition push.

Reuters reports that Vivendi plans to address investor concerns about its strategies and financial results by increasing its video game and advertising presence. Ubisoft and ad group Havas have been identified as the first targets.

Vivendi already owns 25 per cent of Ubisoft, but the vocal resistance from the publisher’s current ownership could lead to a costly and unsolicited” full takeover bid, the site reports.

Chairman Vincent Bollore apparently intends to transform Vivendi into an integrated European media powerhouse”, but investors are concerned with the fact that its $16bn worth of share acquisitions to date has not prevented a three per cent share drop over the same period.

The supposed timescale for the takeover is this year.

Vivendi last moved to increase its Ubisoft ownership in December, when it increased its share capital to 25.15 per cent and increased its voting rights to 22.92 per cent. Despite that, Vivendi at the time claimed it wasn’t interested in buying Ubisoft, or acquiring control of the company.

Under French law, once a person or company holds more than 30 per cent of firm’s stock, they must make a public offer on the company in question.

Vivendi’s interest in Ubisoft has been going on for over a year now. In October 2015, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot described Vivendi’s advances as"unsoliciated and unwelcome". By June this year,the firm had upped its stake in Ubisoft to 20 per cent. That was beforeUbisoft displayed a united front against the conglomorate at E3 2016.

Ahead of Ubisoft’s AGM,Guillemot warned Vivendi to back off. Earlier this month,Vivendi upped its stake in Ubisoft once more to 24.06 per cent, giving it voting rights of 21.3 per cent on its board.

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