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Vivendi’s hostile bid for Gameloft suggests more acquisitions on the way

TechCrunch TechCrunch 1/06/2016 Mike Butcher

Vivendi’s hostile bid for the French mobile games maker Gameloft has won majority shareholder backing, which means the deal looks like being as good as done. Gameloft makes smash hit games like Order & Chaos and Dungeon Hunter. In February Gameloft rejected a takeover offer from Vivendi, which is expanding its games portfolio.

Some 28.2 million Gameloft shares have been tendered to Vivendi’s offer. That’s about 62 percent of the capital and 56 percent of the votes, according to French stock market regulator AMF. It acquired the stock at $8.91 (€8) per share, putting the company’s total value at around $780 million (€700 million).

This means video gaming will become Vivendi’s third business, joining music, given it owns Universal Music Group, and pay TV, where it owns Canal Plus and similar assets.

Vivendi says it isn’t after a control of Ubisoft, sister company to Gameloft. However, the move clearly strengthens its attempts to acquire Ubisoft, which created the global hit Assassin’s Creed (among other assets), now a major Hollywood movie franchise. Vivendi already owns a stake of 17.7 percent in it.

Vincent Bollore, the billionaire and activist investor head of Vivendi, began buying stock in Gameloft and Ubisoft without opening discussions with owners Yves Guillemot and his brothers. Gameloft and Ubisoft compete with market giants Activision Blizzard Inc. and Electronics Arts Inc.

Vivendi is clearly moving from a pretty unfocused ownership strategy to becoming more of an integrated media company across France and Southern Europe — and increasingly internationally.

It recently acquired a large stake in Telecom Italia, the pay TV business of Italy’s Mediaset, a Paris TV studio and a majority stake in DailyMotion, which Yahoo tried and failed you acquire after the French government blocked the deal.

Vivendi could also create some synergies with Gameloft because of its strength in advertising via its Havas media agency, given the growth of advertising inside mobile games.

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