French media giant Vivendi has upped its offer for vidgame company Gameloft after its initial bid was rejected by the board. Vivendi released a statement saying it had increased its offer to 7.20 Euros per share from the previous offer of 6 Euros per share. That would value the company at around 610 million Euros, or $660 million. Gameloft’s board rejected the first offer on the grounds that Vivendi’s takeover was not in the best interests of the company and “does not have a single business that could offer Gameloft synergies.”
Vivendi officially launched its hostile takeover for Gameloft — founded by France’s Guillemot brothers, who also own Assassin’s Creed maker Ubisoft, another Vivendi target — last week. But it has been steadily increasing its stake in both Gameloft and Ubisoft for some months now. The first Gameloft offer repped a 50% premium over the share price when Vivendi started building up its stake in the company last October. Gameloft shares jumped almost 9% Tuesday morning to 7.40 Euros a share on news that Vivendi was coming back for the company. Vivendi also revealed it had increased its stake in Ubisoft from 14.9% to 15.7%.
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Locked in a battle of wills with Vivendi chairman Vincent Bollore, the Guillemot brothers have been outspoken in their desire to block Bollore’s attempts to take over either or both company, arguing the behind-the-scenes power plays have been destabilizing for both Gameloft and Ubisoft. In turn, Vivendi said via its statement, “Video games constitute content in their own right and now represent a significant part of the entertainment and media market.”
Vivendi’s moves follow a period of divestment that included such assets as telcos SFT and Maroc Telecom, along with video game publisher Activision Blizzard, while focusing on its core media assets Canal + and Universal Music Group. Those moves left Vivendi sitting on a war chest of billions of dollars with which to build the business. Vivendi is now the largest single shareholder in Telecom Italia, a platform from which it hopes to launch a pan-Euro OTT service to rival, and it hopes defeat, competitors like Netflix. Vivendi finalized its acquisition of online video channel Dailymotion last June, with the digital company presenting a ready-made platform on which to expand into OTT delivery.
The move for Ubisoft, in particular, isn’t that surprising given that Didier Lupfer, the former head of production and development at its Ubisoft Motion Pictures arm, 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.
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