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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.

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Dominic Tarason

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