Ubisoft has just made strides to maintain its independence, under the threat of a hostile takeover from French media giant Vivendi. The publisher announced today that they had reached a deal with an “investment services provider,” allowing them to repurchase 4 million shares by December 29, 2017.
Gaining control of those shares means other companies – including Vivendi – can’t purchase them. As GameSpot points out, this does mean Vivendi’s percentage of owned shares increases, as there are fewer on the market.
Ubisoft has taken steps in the past to deflect a possible takeover. In September last year, they appointed two new board members during a shareholder meeting. The board of directors now has a majority of independent members, taking six of the eleven seats.
The recent shareholder meeting wasn’t without pushback though. “Extraordinary Resolution 31,” which would allow Ubisoft to give free shares to employees as bonuses and compensation, was denied. Vivendi abstained from the vote – a tactic they’ve used in the past to (as Ubisoft claims) disrupt operations.
Ubisoft said they are exploring “alternative solutions” for developer compensation, adding that a share-based scheme incentivises industry talent to join and stay with them.
"We are delighted with the massive support of shareholders, which strengthens our determination and ability to defend the interests of all shareholders, and to pursue our strategy of growth and value creation," Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said. "Ubisoft consolidates its position in the industry among the world's leading video game and entertainment companies."
In late 2016 Vivendi owned 25.15-percent of Ubisoft, with 22.92-percent voting rights. Today, they control 27-percent of its shares, and 24.5-percent voting rights. At 30-percent, a company is required by French law to make a takeover bid.
Ubisoft has been vocal about maintaining its independence. Late last year, they launched a campaign highlighting the strengths that their independence grants them.