Vivendi's efforts to seize control of French gaming giant Ubisoft will likely come to a head today (29 September) as the company's shareholders gather for an annual meeting during which two new board members will be elected.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Vivendi – which has a 23% stake in the Assassin's Creed, Tom Clancy and Far Cry publisher and developer – is expected to ask for representation on the board.
It is a move that would increase the level of control Vivendi owner Vincent Bolloré has in the company, and make a full takeover more likely.
Ubisoft, currently celebrating 30 years since it was founded by current CEO Yves Guillemot and other members of the Guillemot family, has been fending off media conglomerate Vivendi for some time, buying up shares and using platforms like its E3 press conference for public displays of defiance.
"We won't relax until they sell their shares," Guillemot told WSJ. "The creeping control strategy implemented by Vivendi is dangerous. We think that there's a great risk of shareholders losing value."
Meanwhile Rayman creator Michel Ancel has taken to Instagram to post a second potential tease for Beyond Good and Evil 2 (following another yesterday) with the message: "'Ready for the fight' independence #ubisoft day."
Regarding the election of new board members, analyst Robert Berg told The Wall Street Journal: "We believe the voting outcome is likely to be extremely tight and therefore it is probable that every shareholder's vote will carry importance."
Investor Frederique Dame and CFO of Wrigley Florence Naviner are the proposed new board members.
Any shareholder is able to propose a vote without warning during the meeting, and this is how Vivendi may make its move. If Vivendi makes a move and fails, sources have told Polygon that it may attempt a hostile takeover through the purchase of shares, which are capped for any person or company by French law at 30%.
The Guillemot family, which has been purchasing shares, currently has a 12.5% share in the company, with recent deals adding to the 9% share in Ubisoft the family already had.
Vivendi believes it will be able to lend Ubisoft the financial backing to better take on the likes of fellow gaming giants Activision Blizzard and EA.