After the Tencent operation, Ubisoft is open to further partnerships
by Mathieu Rosemain
PARIS (Reuters) – French video games publisher Ubisoft remains open to partnerships following the deal with Chinese giant Tencent that will increase the company’s capital, its CEO and co-founder Yves Guillemot said.
The studio Assassin’s Creed, Rabbids or Just Dance presented on Saturday night the Ubisoft Forward conference broadcast online to preview its new products for 2023, in particular the next installment of Assassin’s Creed – Mirage -, a franchise that will be 15 years old Existence celebrates anniversary.
Yves Guillemot’s comments were made at a press conference on Thursday and could only be released during Ubisoft Forward.
Ubisoft, the French number one founded in 1986, announced on Tuesday evening an agreement with Tencent authorizing the Chinese to increase the capital of the group and within the Guillemot family holding, which thus protects itself from a possible offensive in a sector in full consolidation .
The operation values the group at more than €10 billion, which suffered a rough run on the stock market after the deal was announced.
Tencent is entitled to increase its stake from 4.99% to 9.99% and has acquired 49.9% of Guillemot Brothers Limited’s capital for just 5% of the voting rights. He will not serve on the Board of Directors and will have no approval or operational veto rights.
“We remain completely independent and can work with any external company if we want,” said Yves Guillemot, founder of Ubisoft with his four brothers on Thursday.
“We can do whatever we want,” he said.
Analysts and market participants are noting that the operation with Tencent actually removes any speculative appeal from the group, which managed to stave off a 2015 crackdown launched by Vivendi.
However, the family had been shaken by the hostile takeover of Vincent Bolloré’s group in 2016 at Gameloft, the mobile games publisher founded by Michel Guillemot.
The Breton siblings are unwilling to give in to predators while Microsoft seeks Activision Blizzard, owners of Call of Duty, Warcraft and Candy Crush, for $69 billion.
“Our primary intention is to be masters of our destiny,” emphasizes Yves Guillemot, 62.
The ship was also shaken by allegations of harassment by several women against Ubisoft executives on social networks in the summer of 2020. The group, which was the target of a Solidaires Informatique complaint for “institutionalized sexual harassment,” has since revised its leadership and introduced an internal policy against abusive behavior.
“Yes, we stumbled and we recognized it,” said Yves Guillemot.
“We have learned a lot and made significant progress with concrete action plans led by our leaders.”
Another pitfall: The group had to revise its plans in the face of disappointing sales figures and postpone the publication of several titles.
It is counting on its three pillars “Assassin’s Creed”, “FarCry” and “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six” returning to the path of growth via a boom on all digital platforms, said Yves Guillemot, who expects annual sales of three billion euros in five years.
(Report by Mathieu Rosemain, French version by Sophie Louet)
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