According to a new report, Electronic Arts' stake in Ubisoft has doubled to a full quarter of voting shares, and the company now controls 15.4 percent of company capital. The shift follows recent comments to Gamasutra from CCO Bing Gordon that "everybody is for sale," and a newly announced focus on "smart growth through acquisitions."
The new report from AFX News Service notes that EA
has reserved the right to "raise its stake in Ubisoft, depending on market conditions, over the next year." It also adds that the company has "no plans to seek to nominate board members, but could do so if the are any major changes in Ubisoft's situation."
EA first purchased 20 percent of the publisher
in December of 2004, which Ubisoft CEO and co-founder Yves Guillemot would go on to characterize as "hostile" later that month.
"I have stated on the record that I view this action on the part of EA as hostile", said Guillemot at the time
, adding that he was disappointed Electronic Arts had not formally or informally contacted him before making the share purchase.
More recently, in an interview with Gamasutra, EA's Gordon commented on the looming prospects of a full takeover
, saying, "I think everybody is for sale. I think in general, successful intellectual properties in all media are undervalued, especially in our media."
Also speaking with Gamasutra, Guillemot said in May
that a merger with Electronic Arts was something the company was "still considering."
"The first option for us is to manage our own company and grow it," he said. "The second option is to work with the movie industry, and the third is to merge. We think the market is going to grow fast, and we can take a big share of that market, so we don't have to change the way things are done at the moment."
In reporting its Q1 earnings on August 1st, EA CEO John Riccitiello told investors
that "smart growth through acquisitions" was one part of its corporate agenda moving forward, but made no mention of specific targets the company had in its sights.
Speaking with Bloomberg, an Ubisoft representative has said
the increase comes down to a rule regarding stock held for a certain length of time.
"It's in the company's statutes," explained spokesman Emmanuel Carre, "If you have shares for more than two years, that doubles the voting right. It was expected."
The Bloomberg report also notes that the Guillemot family currently owns less than EA, at 13.4 percent of the company, and 19.2 percent of its votes.]