Vivendi Buys More Ubisoft, Seeks Board Seat in Latest Salvo

  • Bolloré's media giant ups stake in French game maker to 17.7%
  • Says it doesn't plan bid for control for at least 6 months

Vivendi SA upped the pressure on video-game publisher Ubisoft Entertainment, adding to its stake and seeking board representation while saying it doesn’t plan to make a bid or seek control for the next six months.

Vivendi, the French media company led by billionaire Vincent Bolloré, acquired stock giving it 17.7 percent ownership in Ubisoft, and said it intends to continue buying more, according to a regulatory filing on Friday. Vivendi continues to seek to establish “fruitful” cooperation with the maker of games such as Assassin’s Creed and The Division.

"Vivendi intends to seek a restructuring of the board of Ubisoft Entertainment for the purpose, in particular, to obtain a coherent representation with its shareholder position," the media group said in a letter to the French market regulator.

Bolloré’s latest move is part of a contest of wills with the Guillemot brothers who run both Ubisoft and its sister company, Gameloft SE. Vivendi launched a bid for Gameloft that the family has already rejected. Investors have bid up shares of Ubisoft, concluding the larger of the Guillemots’ game companies is the ultimate target.

Ubisoft considers Vivendi’s action to be part of a creeping control strategy which is not in the interest of the investors. Ubisoft’s management is determined to preserve the company’s independence, a representative of the video-game company said by phone.

Ubisoft fell 2.9 percent to 25.37 euros in Paris on Friday, giving it a market value of 2.85 billion euros ($3.26 billion) while Gameloft was little changed at 7.40 euros, for a stock-market value of 644.2 million euros. Vivendi dipped 2.2 percent to 16.76 euros.

Previously Vivendi had about a 15.1 percent stake in Ubisoft, based on data compiled by Bloomberg.

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