Ubisoft founders considering partnering with private equity firm to acquire the company

by Pierre Bell

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Trying to stave off a potential buyout.

The Guillemot family, founders of Ubisoft, are considering working with a private equity firm to acquire the company and keep potential buyers at bay.

This is according to a Dealreporter report (thanks, SeekingAlpha) which states the deal would allow the Guillemot family to maintain control of Ubisoft.

At present, the Guillemot family owns 15.9% of the company's shares and 22.3% of the net voting shares. When today’s report broke, shares in the company rose by 10%.

Earlier this year, Ubisoft said should an offer ever come to buyout the company, it would review it in the interest of all stakeholders; however, company CEO Yves Guillemot emphasized the company has the means to remain independent.

Back in 2015, Ubisoft was the target of an attempted hostile takeover by the French media conglomerate Vivendi, which for three years purchased more and more shares in the company. At one time, it owned a 27.3% stake.

In a fight to preserve its independence, Ubisoft enlisted the help of Chinese mega-conglomerate Tencent and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Vivendi eventually agreed to sell off its shares in Ubisoft, and not to acquire any more for the next five years.

Vivendi did, however, end up acquiring Gameloft, another company founded by the Guillemot family, in 2016. It started with a 6.2% stake in Gameloft's stock and by February of that year, it owned 30% of company shares, which launched a hostile takeover bid. Vivendi then started a tender offer to acquire further shares, and by May it won over the majority of stakeholders and moved forward with the takeover. By June, it owned 95.94% of the company.