Ubisoft narrowly avoids Vivendi takeover at shareholder meeting

A look at the Ubisoft booth at the E3 conference, held each year to show off the latest in the video game industry./wccftech.com

French video game company Ubisoft dodged a takeover at their shareholders meeting last week. The company, makers of popular games such as the Assassins’ Creed series, Just Dance, Rayman and Far Cry, has been seeing a lot of interest by Vivendi, a multinational mass media conglomerate that operates out of Paris, France. Vivendi’s holdings include Canal+, Universal Music Group and Dailymotion. The conglomerate has notably been buying up Ubisoft shares over the last year.

Ahead of last week’s shareholder meeting, leaders at the game company were worried Vivendi would attempt to push some of their own people in, filling two empty spaces on the board. Instead, the company backed off.

“Shareholders expressed massive support for the strategy and the management of Ubisoft,”  the company released in a statement. Shareholders re-elected brothers Yves Guillemot and Gérard Guillemot as directors and appointed two new independent directors, Frédérique Dame and Florence Naviner, to fill the empty spaces.

During the general meeting, Ubisoft released a statement saying, “Some resolutions were rejected due to Vivendi’s systematic obstruction, impeding the proper functioning of the Company, in particular regarding its competitive compensation policy for its talents.”

Those resolutions are said to include employee grant and stock options.

Though Vivendi didn’t push for representation on the board this time, their interest in the company is likely to continue. In June of this year Bloomberg reported that Vivendi succeeded in a hostile takeover of Gameloft, another game company associated with the Guillemot family which produces mainly mobile games and as of 2011 brings in over €18 million per year.

Despite the threat of a takeover looming over the company, executives were remarkably positive after the meeting.

“We are delighted by the continued support of the vast majority of our shareholders. Ubisoft is confidently pursuing its strategy of growth and value creation,” Yves Guillemot, Chairman and CEO of Ubisoft said in a statement.

Ubisoft employs more than 10,000 people and sells their games in more than 60 countries. 80 per cent of employees, says the company, are members of the creative team. The company’s board of directors now consists of ten members, including four women, 50 per cent of which are independent, a goal that they had previously stated and hope to exceed by 2017. Assassin’s Creed, their most popular series, has over 100,000 players worldwide and the movie based on the series will be released in December of this year.  Whether the company will remain independent until then remains to be seen.

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