Gameloft, Ubisoft Shares Jump on Vivendi's Renewed Deal Push

  • Gameloft offer is increased 20%; stock rises above bid price
  • Vivendi seeks board seats at Ubisoft as it raises stake

Vivendi SA turned up the heat on two French video-game companies founded by the Guillemot family, raising its hostile takeover bid for Gameloft SE and seeking board seats at Ubisoft Entertainment SA. Shares of both companies jumped.

Vivendi, the media conglomerate headed by billionaire Vincent Bollore, plans a tender offer for Gameloft shares at 7.20 euros each, up from the original 6 euros, the bidder said in a statement Monday. Vivendi also raised its stake in Ubisoft above 15 percent, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday, in which it also said it plans to keep buying shares and seek board representation.

With the latest steps, Bollore, an investor with an activist track record, puts the pressure back on the Guillemot family that runs both Gameloft and its larger sister company, Ubisoft. Tension between the two sides has been building for months after Vivendi began buying stock in both companies and said it wanted to explore ways for Vivendi’s media businesses to work with the game studios. It holds about 30 percent of Gameloft and raised its stake in Ubisoft to 15.7 percent, according to a statement Monday.

“The new offer is now attractive enough to convince shareholders to tender their securities,” Richard-Maxime Beaudoux, an analyst Bryan, Garnier & Co., wrote in a report. “The hostile takeover bid for Gameloft is a first phase to force a discussion with the Guillemot family and finally operate a friendly takeover on Ubisoft.”

Gameloft surpassed the offer price, surging 8.4 percent to 7.36 euros at 12:35 p.m. in Paris. The company has a market value of 629 million euros ($683 million) and had been trading above the earlier offer price as well. Ubisoft climbed 4.6 percent to 27.59 euros for a market capitalization of 3.1 billion euros.

Stocks have beaten the market since Vivendi began stalking the companies.
Stocks have beaten the market since Vivendi began stalking the companies.

A spokesman for Montreuil-based Ubisoft and a spokeswoman for Gameloft declined to comment. Paris-based Gameloft rejectedVivendi’s initial offer, saying it was too low and didn’t reflect the company’s intrinsic value.

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