NEWS - Thursday, January 6, 2005

Ubisoft Takeover Rumours Mount

Warfare may once again hit the shores of Europe, but this time in a corporate war between Electronic Arts and Infogrames as they stare across the battlefield for potential control of French publisher Ubisoft. The current stand-off began back in December 2004, when EA bought just under 20% of Ubi and 18.4% of voting rights – just short of the 22.8% of voting right that Ubi founders the Guillemot brothers currently have. The French company have stated publicly that they view the encroachment by Electronic Arts as hostile, which is why fellow French companies Infogrames and Vivendi have been linked with Ubisoft. For shrewd investors there is some good news coming as a result of this corporate staring contest - since EA’s 20% purchase, shares of Ubisoft have increased by 60%. In a statement to Reteurs, the Head of Infogrames, Bruno Bonnel said that, "I hope Ubi Soft will find ways to defend itself so that Infogrames does not become the last bastion in the European video games industry…when Ubi Soft has defined the limits within which it is prepared to work, they know we are ready to listen." In the interview, Bonnel didn’t go into details as to how Infogrames would help Ubisoft. There was also speculation that Vivendi has been in talks with the upper hierarchy of Ubisoft, and whilst there have been rumours from within the company that Vivendi are interested in the company, the official line from them is that there have been no talks. The Ubisoft situation has also captured the attention of the French government, which would find it a very bitter pill to swallow if Ubisoft was absorbed and mutated into a satellite company of EA. We’ll keep a close eye on the situation over the coming weeks and months…


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