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Vivendi sells entire stock of Ubisoft shares, Tencent among buyers

Vivendi sells entire stock of Ubisoft shares, Tencent among buyers

March 20, 2018 | By Alissa McAloon

After years of grabbing up Ubisoft shares, Vivendi has sold its entire stake in the company and seemingly backed away from its hostile acquisition aspirations.

The freshly penned agreement between Ubisoft and Vivendi sees the sale of all of Vivendi’s Ubisoft shares, roughly 30.5 million in total, and marking the company’s complete exit from Ubisoft’s share capital.

While Ubisoft bought back 8.1 percent of its capital from Vivendi, other investors stepped in to gain a stake in the company as well. When the dust settles, Ontario Teachers will own 3.4 percent of Ubisoft capital in exchange for €250 million (~$306.5 million) and the Chinese internet giant Tencent will have control of 5 percent of capital, though the company has agreed not to transfer its shares or increase its ownership or voting rights in Ubisoft.

The Guillemot brothers, founders of Ubisoft, also agreed to acquire 2.7 percent of the capital from the agreement, bring the family’s stake in Ubisoft to 18.5 percent share capital and 24.6 percent voting rights.

The remainder of Vivendi’s shares, just under 9 million representing 8 percent of capital, are slated to be sold at a price of €66 (~$81) per share.

Additionally, the agreement sees Tencent and Ubisoft form a strategic partnership to boost the presence of Ubisoft’s properties in China in the future.

Prior to this agreement, Vivendi had been periodically picking up shares in Ubisoft with hopes of acquiring the company via hostile takeover. French accounting law dictates that reaching 30 percent ownership requires a company to attempt a hostile takeover and Vivendi's stake had been hovering just under that number for some time.

Vivendi had been met with resistance from the Guillemot family along the way, however, as Ubisoft's leadership said it saw its independence as critical to its creativity and success. At roughly 26 percent ownership, the French conglomerate told investors last November that it had no more plans to acquire Ubisoft shares during the following six months and the company has since made good on those plans though this sale. 

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