Vivendi’s Hostile Bid for Gameloft Is Cleared by French Courtby
Decision removes one of the last hurdles for the offer
Financial markets regulator sets closing date of May 27
A French court cleared Vivendi SA’s hostile bid for Gameloft SE, removing one of the last hurdles for the offer and turning up the heat on the Guillemot family that runs the video game maker and its larger sister company, Ubisoft Entertainment.
Gameloft had asked the Court of Appeal of Paris to overrule the French stock market regulator, which had cleared the bid for the maker of mobile games such as Order & Chaos and Dungeon Hunter. In its complaint, Gameloft said Vivendi hadn’t been transparent and hadn’t duly informed the market of its intention to make an offer.
Gameloft’s demand was rejected Wednesday by the court, France’s financial markets regulator AMF said in an e-mailed statement. AMF set a new closing date for the offer for May 27.
The court’s decision puts pressure on the Guillemots to come up with an alternate strategy to maintain control of both their gaming companies. Analysts at Bryan Garnier have said the hostile bid for Gameloft may be the first stage in Vivendi’s efforts to force talks with the Guillemots and eventually negotiate a friendly takeover of larger gamemaker Ubisoft.
Gameloft’s founding Guillemot family in February rejected a hostile takeover offer from Vivendi and its chairman, Vincent Bollore, setting the stage for a protracted takeover battle. Bollore, a billionaire and activist investor who has led the French media group since 2014, began buying stock in Gameloft and Ubisoft, without bothering to open discussions with Yves Guillemot and his brothers, who run both companies. Investors have bid up shares of Ubisoft, concluding the larger of the Guillemots’ game companies is the ultimate target.
Ubisoft rose 0.3 percent to 26.50 euros in Paris at 2:37 p.m., giving it a market value of 3 billion euros ($3.45 billion). Gameloft advanced 0.1 percent to 7.38 euros, for a stock-market value of 642 million euros. Vivendi rose 0.5 percent to 16.77 euros.