Vivendi officially abandon their Ubisoft takeover plans

The shareholders meeting probably looked a little bit like this

We can at least breathe a small sigh of relief today. For the first time in what seems like an age, two already-massive corporate entities have failed to become one, a move that would surely crush yet more fragile human hopes and dreams between their colliding financial bodies. We’ve previously covered Vivendi’s increasingly aggressive attempt to buy out Ubisoft, and today we’re relieved to report that Vivendi has officially thrown in the towel after several years of snapping up shares.

Vivendi are gearing up to sell off all shares they’ve acquired in Ubisoft over the course of the takeover attempt, each valued at approximately €66. In total, they managed to acquire over 27% of Ubisoft’s total value, worryingly close to the 30% required to make a takeover bid. A large chunk will be bought back by Ubisoft themselves, while the Guillemot Brothers private holding company will acquire a smaller chunk.

Chinese publisher Tencent will acquire a juicy slab of Ubi, giving them a significant stake (steak?) in the French publisher, while the remainder is to be split between the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan investment firm or earmarked to be resold. This marks an end to Vivendi’s attempt to buy a controlling share in the massive French-owned publishing/development conglomerate, at least for the next five years according to the agreement struck between the publishers. While a fan of neither company, the fewer corporate mergers, the better. When the post-cyberpocalypse comes, the more shadow in the gaps between the corps, the longer we can keep breathing.

It would appear that Ubisoft will be continuing on their current trajectory for the forseeable future, though Ubisoft say that their new partnership with Tencent “will significantly accelerate the reach of Ubisoft franchises in China in the coming years”. Savvy, given the explosive growth of the Chinese games market. And whatever issues I may have had with Ubisoft in the past, I doubt being absorbed by Vivendi would have done much good for anyone.

Fans of very big numbers (and this deal involved billions of Euros) can read the official press release here. If nothing else, it’s a reminder that even the most absurdly over-egged project pales in comparison to how much money is involved at the top levels of industry.


  1. TillEulenspiegel says:

    For the first time in what seems like an age

    *extremely corporate-merger-nerd voice* I believe you’ll find that AT&T / Time Warner was blocked quite recently, as well as Qualcomm / Broadcom. Court cases still pending though.

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      Drib says:

      Weren’t those blocked by regulatory groups instead of just inability? I certainly could be wrong there.

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    zapatapon says:

    Apparently Vivendi is poised to make a 1.2 Billion Euro profit over the deal (shares bought for about 800 Million over 3 years, now resold for 2 Billion).

  3. GrumpyCatFace says:

    Oh, two more companies that I don’t purchase things from anyway? They can do whatever they want. I don’t buy shlock.

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      If you purchase/listen legally to any music, or you use Dailymotion, chances are you’ve either directly given money to or indirectly supported Vivendi.

      • Aetylus says:

        If you are invested enough in digital entertainment to spend time commenting on RPS, it is pretty much inevitable that you will have given money to Vivendi.
        Also if you are older than 20 and drunk water from taps, you have probably given money indirectly to Vivendi.

  4. ColonelFlanders says:

    Tencent owning a bit of Ubisoft is going to be far worse than Vivendi owning a lot of it.

    • Flatbread_ says:

      The press release indicates that Tencent will only acquire 5%. Not only this, Tencent won’t have a seat at the board and have agreed not to persue any more shares or voting power.

      I imagine Tencent is mostly interested in publishing Ubisoft’s games in China, something Ubisoft couldn’t do without a Chinese partner due to Chinese laws.

  5. DatonKallandor says:

    Tencent getting shares in anything should be extremely worrying to anyone who like videogames. They have a habit of making anything they touch worse.

    • brucethemoose says:

      They own a bit of Paradox too, and a bunch of other studios and companies I like. I like to call them “10 percent of everything”, because every time I check, they own a stake in whoever I’m looking at.

      Honestly, as long as they don’t own a controlling stake, I’m not particularly worried. Seems like they want diverse investments and lubrication for deals to publish stuff in China more than they want to tell these western companies what to do.

    • Droniac says:

      It’s still a lot better than Vivendi getting a controlling portion of anything. Every prior gaming acquisition by Vivendi has turned a decent games publisher into a shitshoveling factory, see Sierra and Activision.

  6. NuclearSword says:

    Tencent already owns Epic Games and a chunk of Activision. For a game publisher that doesn’t export many games out of China, they sure do have an interest in Western publishers.

    Would be nice if they would bring some stuff over – when they’re making stuff like Monster Hunter Online years ago (still a nicer looking game than MonHun World; their CryEngine 3 powered work is more vibrant than Capcom’s MT Framework-powered muddy color palettes), it sucks to see them just sort of sit back and absorb money that their Western companies are bringing in :/ They should be putting their stuff out internationally – games like GodSlayer and Moonlight Blade look bloody fantastic.

    • suicicoo says:

      …you hope they bring stuff over here?
      you did notice, that they are the ones(if i remember correctly) developing this orwellian social media thing, the chinese government uses or plans to use to keep people on party-line?

  7. Jernau Gurgeh says:

    It’s funny how capitalism is becoming like communism, only without any of its benefits. Unless you believe that nonsense about ‘trickle down’ economics.

    All these soul-suckin’ death-dealin’ megacorps need to be broken up and turned into ethical environmentally-responsible employee-owned co-operatives, before it’s too late.

  8. ZeroWaitState says:

    If only class A shares didn’t come in loot boxes. I guess Vivendi got tired of rerolling.