Ubisoft is to buy back 4m of its own shares, the publisher has announced. In a short statement to investors, it said it had granted a mandate to a currently unknown investment services provider with a view to repurchasing up to an aggregate amount of four million shares starting from today (October 5th) until December 29th 2017.
The move, which was authorised at its general meeting for shareholders last month, will likely be viewed as a another attempt to prevent rival French media company Vivendi from taking over the firm. Vivendi currently has a 27 per cent share in the company and has been steadily increasing its stake over the last couple of years. Once it reaches 30 per cent, it will be required by French law to make a public offer on the company.
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said he had received "massive support" from its shareholders at its general meeting, further strengthening the publisher’s position against Vivendi’s impending takeover.
Indeed, the buy back itself represents 10 per cent of the company’s overall capital, and these shares will then be cancelled once they’ve been repurchased, effectively preventing any other company from acquiring them further down the line.
Vivendi has already taken over another Guillemot family business – Gameloft – which it completed in June 2016. At the time, Yves Guillemot said he would "not let Vivendi break Ubisoft."
Likewise, speaking to PCGamesN last November, Ubisoft’s VP of live operations Anne Blondel said any potential takeover by Vivendi would harm the company. She said:The thought I have is that I have been [here], with Ubisoft, for 20 years, and I know what made us so successful for 30 years, is being super independent, being very autonomous."