Ubisoft partners with China’s Tencent as Vivendi exits
MANILA, Philippines - Vivendi is selling all of its shares of Ubisoft for an estimated $2.45 billion, ending its yearslong efforts to takeover the game publisher known for titles such as Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry.
Vivendi was the largest stakeholder in Ubisoft, holding nearly 30.5 million shares which it gradually acquired for €794 million in the span of 3 years. Their shares are now to be divided among the parties involved.
Polygon reported Tuesday, March 20, that Ubisoft itself is buying back as much as 8.1% of shares along with its chief Executive and co-founder, Yves Guillemot, who is acquiring 2.7% for his own Guillemot Brothers SE business.
The new deal even brings in two new “long-term investors” namely the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, an independent organization that gives out pensions to teachers, and Tencent, China’s largest gaming publisher. Ontario Teachers’ is buying 3.4% of the shares while Tencent is acquiring 5%. The remaining 8% is going to be offered to other investors through an accelerated bookbuild running until March 21.
“The evolution in our shareholding is great news for Ubisoft,” said Guillemot, who can now breathe a sigh of relief after continuously thwarting Vivendi’s attempts at a hostile takeover of the company. Vivendi is prohibited from acquiring any shares of the company in the next 5 years after the transaction.
Ubisoft is taking extra precaution this time ensuring the Vivendi situation does not happen again by not giving both investors a seat on the company’s board of directors. Additionally, Tencent cannot transfer its shares or increase its voting rights or stake in the company.
Although Tencent’s stake limits its involvement with Ubisoft itself, the Chinese conglomerate, currently valued at $550 billion, can “operate, publish and promote several of Ubisoft’s most successful titles on PC and mobile in the Chinese market.” No specific games has been mentioned as of yet.
Tencent owns Riot Games, the developers of the multiplayer online battle arena giant, League of Legends. It also has stakes in the Unreal Engine and Epic Games, popular for Fortnite, and published the massive survival shooter, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in China, recently bringing the same game to mobile devices worldwide. – Rappler.com