- Vivendi has been pledged 62% of the capital and 56% of votes
- Bollore secures first victory over gamemaking Guillemot family
Vivendi SA’s hostile bid for Gameloft SE won majority shareholder backing, handing Vincent Bollore his first victory over the Guillemot brothers, which run the French mobile gamemaker and its larger sister company, Ubisoft Entertainment.
A total of 28.2 million Gameloft shares have been tendered to Vivendi’s offer, representing about 62 percent of the capital and 56 percent of the votes, French stock market regulator AMF said in a regulatory notice Tuesday, citing preliminary results. Some Gameloft shares offer double voting rights.
Faced with probable defeat at Gameloft, the Guillemots are trying to avoid losing a second company to Vivendi, which led by Chairman Bollore is pushing beyond TV and music through acquisitions. Vivendi, which says for now it isn’t seeking control of Ubisoft, owns about 18 percent of its capital and has demanded board representation. The Guillemots are working with financial advisers to find a white knight that will help the larger of their gamemakers fend off the unwanted embrace, according to people familiar with the matter.
Gameloft in February rejected a takeover offer from Vivendi, setting the stage for a protracted battle. Bollore, a billionaire and activist investor, began buying stock in Gameloft and Ubisoft without bothering to open discussions with Yves Guillemot and his brothers. A bid to stop the offer in courts failed for the family this month, leaving the Guillemots with a dwindling set of options to protect their companies from takeover.
Analysts at Bryan Garnier have speculated that Gameloft, the maker of mobile games such as Order & Chaos and Dungeon Hunter, may be a way for Vivendi to force talks with the Guillemots and eventually negotiate a friendly takeover of Ubisoft, the creator of Assassin’s Creed.
Gameloft and Ubisoft compete with market giants Activision Blizzard Inc. and Electronics Arts Inc. Vivendi, which used to control Activision Blizzard, sold its stake over the past two years. With assets including the French pay-TV station Canal Plus, Vivendi has also acquired 25 percent of phone carrier Telecom Italia SpA as it seeks more influence in both content creation and distribution.
Gameloft rose 2.9 percent to 8.23 euros at the close in Paris. Ubisoft advanced 1.7 percent to 33.15 euros, while Vivendi dropped 0.6 percent, to 17.83 euros.