Vivendi, the French-run media colossus that owns Universal Music Group, has announced that it now owns over 25% of Ubisoft shares. While that doesn’t mean anything in itself, it does suggest that the giant is set on getting the necessary stock to make a takeover bid of the publisher, which it is obliged to do by French law once it owns 30% of the company’s shares. In short, Vivendi are continuing to creep towards Ubisoft with a chloroform cloth. How such a takeover would effect y’all, we don’t know. But Ubisoft say it’s not what they want.
Vivendi has been steadily buying up shares since it bought a 6.6% stake in October last year, snatching up the Guillemot-owned mobile publisher Gameloft along the way. All of which make its claims that it “is not considering the launch of a public tender on Ubisoft nor acquiring the control of the company” hard to take at face value. This won’t be the first time the French multinational has dipped its toes into the games industry hot spring. It once owned Activision Blizzard, but cut ties in 2013, leaving that particular beast to become its own thing.
Meanwhile, the publisher would rather merge with another games company, said CEO and co-founder Yves Guillemot at E3 this year, and doesn’t think Vivendi knows the business well enough to run things correctly.
“We have Plan A and Plan B,” he said. “Plan A is to remain independent. Plan B is going with another group, either in the game industry or with a technology or other types of company. Those are the two options at this point and they are both still open.”
It’s also important to note that, while Ubisoft has been posturing as “the little guy” fending off a strong-arming giant, it isn’t exactly an indie darling, pumping out nigh-yearly franchises like Assassin’s Creed with Henry Ford efficiency. This isn’t so much David and Goliath as it is Goliath and a slightly smaller Goliath. But Ubi has suggested that small games such as Valiant Hearts or Child of Light may not be seen as profitable and wouldn’t get made under a Vivendi banner.
All in all, we got ourselves a legit business telenovela in the works here. We’ll let you know how it all ends up.