Vivendi-Gameloft: the ruthless takeover bid –

by bold-lichterman

In the Vivendi-Gameloft duel, the market glorifies the law of the strongest. Thanks to its last offer of May 27 and following a stock market battle that began in February, Vivendi won the support of the majority of Gameloft shareholders in the context of a hostile takeover offer. This gave Vivendi the leverage it needed to move forward with its acquisition.

Indeed, a Trojan horse was revealed and tipped the scales: Amber Capital, one of Gameloft’s most important – and most recent – shareholder groups has offered its support to Vivendi. The latter now owns 61.71% of the company’s capital and 55.61% of its voting rights, thus becoming its main shareholder. With a dearly acquired majority, Vincent Bolloré won his showdown and the expected change in the management of Gameloft was not long in coming: Michel Guillemot, founder and CEO of the company, announced in a letter addressed to his employees his departure taking effect from the next shareholders’ meeting on June 29.

Vivendi’s strategy with regard to video games has not been consistent. Formerly the owner of Activision, Vivendi then backtracked and focused not only on mobile game developer Gameloft, but also – and above all – on Ubisoft, the publisher of the hit saga Assassin’s Creed, also founded by the Guillemot siblings.

Thus, Vivendi tightened its grip on the French video game giant in October 2015 by gradually buying the shares of Gameloft, while Ubisoft criticized this aggressive policy and considered these takeovers as unsolicited and unwelcome. To counter this, Ubisoft wanted to put in place means of defense, by seeking new investments, and by appealing to the Competition Authority in order to preserve its independence.

However, it was difficult for Gameloft to resist when the sale of Activision in 2013 enabled Vivendi to rake in a lot of cash. Thanks to this and the sales of shares in 2014, the advantage was now on the side of Vivendi which weighs around 10 billion dollars. Ubisoft, with a prosperous financial year and successful games, can afford to resist Vivendi’s attacks again, at least for now.

Asked about his relationship with Telecom Italia the same day, Vincent Bolloré announced “the Vivendi group has all the assets necessary to carry out its strategy and does not plan to make major acquisitions”, confirming its intention to focus on content and not telecoms. However, given the history of Vivendi and its methods, it is likely that this is only a stepping stone towards a much more important objective: Ubisoft.

frederic-ichayThrough Frédéric Ichay, associate lawyer Pinsent Masons, international law firm established in France since 2012.

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