Ubisoft confident of shareholders support to rebuff Vivendi

PARIS (Reuters) - French video games maker Ubisoft is confident that a majority of shareholders will back its independence from media giant Vivendi, Chief Financial Officer Alain Martinez said on Tuesday.

A man walks past the Ubisoft booth at the E3 Electronic Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Vivendi, led by billionaire Vincent Bollore, is asking to be represented on the board of Ubisoft because it has become the company’s biggest shareholder, owning 22.63 of equity and more than 20 percent of voting rights.

That request has been denied by Ubisoft’s founding Guillemot family, owner of a 9 percent stake and 15 percent of the voting rights, because it considers the move hostile.

“We keep on talking and communicating with our shareholders to make sure that all our resolutions receive their support,” Martinez said in a conference call discussing the annual shareholder meeting slated for Sept. 29. “We think that’s the case for the moment.”

Ubisoft has refused to collaborate with Vivendi, arguing that it has not yet received any detailed plan on potential cost savings between the two groups.

A Vivendi spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Guillemot family has already lost a first battle against Vivendi by losing control of Ubisoft’s sister company Gameloft, which the media group took over last month.

The family is considering increasing its stake in Ubisoft, using proceeds of the sale of its shares in Gameloft, to fend off Vivendi, Ubisoft Chief Executive Officer Yves Guillemot told Le Monde newspaper last month.

Martinez’s comment on Tuesday came as Ubisoft reported forecast-beating first-quarter sales of 139 million euros ($153 million) and reiterated its full-year guidance.

The company expects to achieve second-quarter sales of about 100 million euros.

Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gwenaelle Barzic, Editing by Astrid Wendlandt and David Goodman