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Vivendi unsure whether to drop Ubisoft stock or attempt a takeover, says exec

Vivendi unsure whether to drop Ubisoft stock or attempt a takeover, says exec

September 25, 2017 | By Alex Wawro

September 25, 2017 | By Alex Wawro
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

On Friday Ubisoft hosted its annual shareholders meeting without incident, getting shareholder approval for the expansion of its board of directors and reconfirming a number of boardmembers' positions.

After the shareholders meeting, Vivendi chief operating officer Stephane Roussel reportedly told Bloomberg that the French conglomerate (which owns a roughly 26 percent stake in Ubisoft) hasn't yet decided whether it will attempt a Ubisoft takeover or simply sell off its stock in the company.

This is important because Ubisoft has long been under threat of hostile takeover by Vivendi, which could take advantage of the annual shareholders meeting by, say, calling for a shareholder vote to give itself a seat on the board.

According to Roussel, Vivendi has previously requested a seat on the board but was rejected by Ubisoft management. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot further told Bloomberg that he did not believe Vivendi would be successful if it did try to get itself onto the board via shareholder vote, because "our shareholders don't want creeping control." 

However, things may come to a head later this year, as Bloomberg reports that Vivendi will see its stake in Ubisoft increase automatically this November due to a provision for double voting rights (which, in an effort to encourage shareholder loyalty, typically allows shareholders to exercise double voting rights for shares they have registered and held for a certain amount of time.) 

That increase will reportedly bring Vivendi very close to owning 30 percent of Ubisoft. French accounting law requires Vivendi to make a takeover bid once it owns more than a 30 percent stake, which is exactly how it wound up (successfully) initiating a mandatory takeover of French game company Gameloft last year. 

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