Vivendi Withholds Vote at Ubisoft Shareholder Meeting

Vivendi Withholds Vote at Ubisoft Shareholder Meeting”

Vivendi, led by serial corporate raider Vincent Bollore, has always been at odds with Ubisoft's founding Guillemot family, which holds 15 percent of the shares and is opposed to Bollore increasing his influence at the firm.

As such, Ubisoft management can say that Vivendi's ownership of such a large block of Ubisoft stock is hurting the company - even if that ownership puts an upward pressure on the stock price.

Currently, 26.6 per cent of Ubisoft's share capital is owned by Vivendi, with the media empire holding 25.2 per cent of its voting rights according to the Financial Times.

However, Ubisoft's chief executive Yves Guillemot was unmoved. But the threat from Vivendi, which has acquired enough shares to launch a hostile takeover of Ubisoft, still lingers.

Today, Ubisoft convened its Combined General Meeting for shareholders under the chairmanship of Mr. Yves Guillemot.

On Friday, Vivendi said that it abstained from a vote to approve a resolution to authorize the allocation of free shares to employees, although it supports the resolution. The French media company's interest in Ubisoft stems in part from its ambition to grow in videogames, an industry closely tied to movies and theme parks.

In addition, it is worth noting that several proxies have expressed a negative opinion on a certain number of resolutions presented at the Shareholders' Meeting, including Resolution 31, reinforcing Vivendi's decision.

"Share-based compensation is an essential tool for recruiting and retaining top talent in the video game industry, and is a standard practice for competitive, modern, high-tech companies", states Ubisoft.

If you're wondering what might be so bad about a Vivendi-owned Ubisoft, Guillemot spells it out, saying that "It's hard for us to be part of a conglomerate because speed and agility will suffer". Vivendi did not offer any of its own resolutions, and it has not commented on the meeting. "We feel it wouldn't be in the best interests of their shareholders because buying a company in our industry aggressively is actually very risky". Vivendi, who now owns 26.6% of Ubisoft's share capital and 25.2% of voting rights, may see its stake in the company doubled under France's Florange Law, thus boosting the company's stake in the games-maker past the 30% needed for a takeover.

"A videogame company can not grow within a media conglomerate", Mr. Guillemot said in an interview before the annual meeting, as reported by Bloomberg.

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