French media titan Vivendi has increased its stake in Ubisoft and Gameloft for the second time in recent weeks and indicated it may acquire even more of the French video game companies. Vivendi now owns 10.39% of Ubisoft (11.6 million shares) and 10.2% of Gameloft (8.68 million shares). Both companies, though based in France, have global operations and audience reach. The acquisitions were financed through Vivendi’s disposable cash.
Vivendi, which owns Canal Plus and Universal Media Group as well as streaming platform Daily Motion, is sitting on billions of dollars after a concerted process of divestment by chairman and billionaire businessman Vincent Bollore. Ironically, among the then-Vivendi assets sold under Bollore’s watch was vidgame company Activision Blizzard to help finance Vivendi’s takeover of EMI via UMG.
Vivendi also announced it would reserve the right to increase its stake in these two companies depending on market conditions and the possibility, in due time, to be represented on their board.
The move for Ubisoft, in particular, isn’t that surprising given that the former head of production and development at its Ubisoft Motion Pictures arm, Didier Lupfer, was appointed both Canal Plus’ film division president as well as president at StudioCanal in September. Ubisoft Motion Pictures was set up in 2011 to adapt the likes of Assassin’s Creed, currently shooting with Justin Kurzel directing and Michael Fassbender in the lead role, for the big screen. Lupfer’s credits also include Joann Sfar’s well-received biopic Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life.