Ubisoft Rises as Vivendi Adds to Stake, Fueling Bid Speculation

  • Vivendi holds 20.1%; not considering bid for next 6 months
  • Ubisoft shares are among top gainers in French market

Ubisoft Entertainment shares rose after Vivendi SA added to its stake in the videogame company, fueling renewed speculation of a potential takeover bid for the creator of games such as Assassin’s Creed.

Vivendi now holds 20.1 percent of Ubisoft’s stock and is considering acquiring more shares depending on market conditions, the Paris-based company said in a statement Friday after markets closed. Vivendi previously held about 18 percent. The group run by Vincent Bollore aims to build “a fruitful cooperation” with Ubisoft and isn’t considering a public tender offer for the game maker, nor acquiring the control for the next six months.

Speculation about Vivendi’s ambitions in video games mounted after the media company took control of Gameloft SE, another game-maker that, like Ubisoft, is run by the Guillemot family, via a hostile bid. Vivendi has asked for seats on Ubisoft’s board. While Vivendi is looking for to build a new business unit in video games, Gameloft alone doesn’t bring scale to match the company’s ambitions, analysts said.

"A Gameloft scenario in which Vivendi has to launch a takeover bid in due form still seems like a probability,” Charles-Louis Planade, an analyst at Louis Capital Markets-Midcap Partners, said in a research note today. “This scenario constitutes one of the short-term catalysts for the stock."

Ubisoft shares advanced 4.4 percent to 32.52 euros at 10:45 a.m. in Paris, giving the company a market value of 3.7 billion euros ($4.2 billion). The stock was among the biggest gainers in France’s SBF120 Index. Vivendi climbed 3.4 percent to 16.11 euros.

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