Ubisoft management gets big support as Vivendi threat looms
"We are delighted with the massive support of shareholders, which strengthens our determination and ability to defend the interests of all shareholders"
There's no denying that Ubisoft is still quite concerned about the possibility of a hostile takeover from French media conglomerate Vivendi, which some reports indicate could be attempted this year. Vivendi holds 27% of Ubisoft's capital share and if it reaches 30% French law mandates that a takeover attempt be pursued. The good news, for now, from management's perspective is that shareholders are very pleased with Ubisoft's current strategy.
At its Combined General Meeting for shareholders under the chairmanship of Yves Guillemot, shareholders gave management a very big "thumbs up" by expressing their support and approving resolutions on the company's agenda. And all this was done with a quorum set at 82.67% compared to 76,54% a year earlier.
Importantly, as Ubisoft continues to fight for its independence, shareholders not only showed support for the renewal of Board of Directors positions for Didier Crespel, Laurence Hubert-Moy, Christian Guillemot, Claude Guillemot, and Michel Guillemot, the goal of appointing two more independent directors, Corinne Fernandez-Handelsman and Virginie Haas, was also given a green light. Currently, Ubisoft's board is comprised of a majority of independent directors (6 out of 11).
One area where Vivendi's share control already had an impact was something called Extraordinary resolution 31. This program enables Ubisoft to grant free shares to employees but it was rejected just as it was in 2016 because of the abstention of Vivendi. As Ubisoft explained, "Share-based compensation is an essential tool for recruiting and retaining top talent in the videogame industry, and is a standard practice for competitive, modern, high-tech companies. Alternative solutions will be put in place to guarantee competitive compensation for talents."
Yves Guillemot, Chairman and CEO of Ubisoft, commented: "We are delighted with the massive support of shareholders, which strengthens our determination and ability to defend the interests of all shareholders, and to pursue our strategy of growth and value creation. Ubisoft consolidates its position in the industry among the world's leading video game and entertainment companies."
In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz over this summer, Guillemot stressed how critical his company's independence is.
"Staying alive means agility, creativity and the possibility to work in an environment with people that are happy to be there and can give as much as they can to create something that will please the market. Those values are very important to fight for, so it's not only me, it's the whole company, fighting to keep its values," he told us in August.
"That's why we have more of a chance, because it's not one guy saying 'I want to stay as the boss', it's the company itself saying 'this is our work, so we'll do whatever we can to make sure it stays that way'."