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Ubisoft vows to remain independent as Vivendi’s equity stake grows

Ubisoft has responded to publisher Vivendi’s recent purchase of a large number of its company shares, criticizing the move as “unsolicited” and vowing to retain its independence as Vivendi expands its stake.

“We take note of the unsolicited action on the part of Vivendi,” the statement reads. “We reiterate our intention to remain independent, an approach that, since the company’s founding 30 years ago, enabled it to become the third-largest video game developer in the world.”

Bloomberg confirmed earlier this month that Vivendi had purchased a significant number of existing Ubisoft shares for 140 million euros (approximately $156 million), earning it a 6.6-percent stake in the company. Additional share purchases this week granted Vivendi a 10.39-percent equity stake in Ubisoft.

The rapid series of share purchases hint that Vivendi may be pursuing a majority stake in Ubisoft. Previously, Vivendi was the majority owner of Call of Duty series publisher Activision, claiming a 63-percent stake in company shares. An $8.2 billion share buyout in 2013 earned Activision its independence, reducing Vivendi’s stake in the company to 5.8 percent.

Vivendi’s aggressive pursuit of Ubisoft shares has not gone unnoticed by company staff, reportedly leading CEO Yves Guillemot to issue an e-mailed statement to Ubisoft employees concerned by a potential hostile takeover.

“Our intention is and has always been to remain independent, a value which, for 30 years, has allowed us to innovate, take risks, create beloved franchises for players around the world, and which has helped the company grow into the leader it is today,” Guillemot stated in a company-wide e-mail.

“We’re going to fight to preserve our independence. We should not let this situation – nor any future actions by Vivendi or others – distract us from our goals. Our best defense is to stay focused on what we have always done best – deliver the most original and memorable gaming experiences.”

Guillemot further described Vivendi’s share purchases as “unsolicited and unwelcome,” cementing the company’s commitment to its independence.