Media conglomerate Vivendi, which has been moving toward acquiring a controlling interest in video game publisher Ubisoft in recent years, unexpectedly chose not to nominate its own people to fill two openings on the Ubisoft board of directors yesterday, allowing the home of Rayman, Assassin's Creed, and Watch Dogs to appoint the independent directors it nominated back in June.
"The shareholders expressed massive support for the strategy and the management of Ubisoft, approving all the ordinary resolutions submitted at the AGM [Annual General Meeting]," the company said in a press release.
According to CNBC, Vivendi made no proposals during the meeting, nor did any of its representatives speak during the Q&A session. However, it also abstained from voting on resolutions "related to employee stock grants and options," which prevented them from passing. Ubisoft described the abstentions as "systematic obstruction, impeding the proper functioning of the company, in particular regarding its competitive compensation policy for its talents."
Though surprising that Vivendi didn't try to force the matter at the AGM, it's also unlikely that the company will stop here. The Guillemots, who were reelected to the board during this meeting, recently purchased three percent of Ubisoft's stock from French investment bank Bpifrance, but Vivendi, which now holds 23 percent of the company's shares, remains in a dominant position. It may now be looking ahead to a more hostile takeover attempt, similar to its forced acquisition of the formerly Guillemot-owned mobile publisher Gameloft earlier this year.
Ubisoft is working hard to avoid the same fate, expanding the board with directors of its own choosing and presumably making it more difficult for Vivendi to assume control. And while this doesn't really count for anything in a boardroom, the publisher also appears to be working hard to improve its credibility with gamers, most notably by saying that it won't bring back Assassin's Creed and Far Cry in 2017 if they're not properly ready.