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Vivendi Universal is probably best known for having owned Activision Blizzard before Activision Blizzard paid out for their own independence, leaving Vivendi Universal high and dry. Well, they're not so high and dry anymore. They want back into the gaming sphere and they're attempting to do so through Ubisoft.
According to an article by Tech Crunch, Vivendi Universal has purchased enough stock in Yves and Michel Guillemot's software publishing businesses to get voting rights as members of the board. Yves Guillemot heads up Ubisoft while his brother Michel Guillemot heads up the mobile subsidiary Gameloft.
Vivendi Universal, owners of various media enterprises, including the Universal Music Group and video upload service DailyMotion, has acquired 17% of Gameloft through stock acquisitions, which gives them 15% voting rights on business management decisions, according to Tech Crunch. In the case of Ubisoft, they've acquired 10% of the company's stock.
What makes this story really interesting is that both Yves and Michel Guillemot do not want Vivendi Universal involved at all. In fact, they are looking for other investors to put money into both Gameloft and Ubisoft to prevent Vivendi from barging in and taking over.
So why would Ubisoft be so worried about Vivendi Universal if they're one of the top publishers of software in the world? And why would Vivendi Universal be so interested in Ubisoft all of a sudden?
Well, there are a few possibilities about both questions. On one hand Vivendi Universal wasn't making the best of decisions when they were in control of Activision Blizzard. We can see now that Acti-Blizzard have been rolling in a lot of cash since the split, and have really branched the company out with very lucrative intellectual properties. They've also moved into the film and television production arena, tapping their IP to reach a much broader audience in addition to their already expansive video game reach. They're working on a Skylanders TV show as well as Call of Duty properties, potentially TV shows and movies.
Ubisoft probably doesn't want a company who did little and next to nothing when they had Sierra Interactive under their belt, and appeared to do little more than hold back Activision Blizzard with their lucrative IP.
In the case of Vivendi Universal, there's really no downside for them buying into Ubisoft. It's a company with a lot of reach and powerful IP at the moment, from the Tom Clancy games such as Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six, to the Raving Rabbids and Assassin's Creed brands... there's as much potential under Ubisoft's belt with their IPs as there is with Activision Blizzard. Heck, there is already an Assassin's Creed movie in the works and a Raving Rabbids television show. Vivendi would be right back into the big leagues if they could gain control of Ubisoft.
The real question is: will Ubisoft fight them tooth and nail on this or will they eventually step away? It doesn't sound like the Guillemots want to give up without a fight. It's also not hard to see why both companies would want to fight over fairly well known and lucrative properties that could be big business in more than just the gaming arena.