Addressing rumors that private equity firms may be looking to acquire French publisher Ubisoft (opens in new tab), CEO Yves Guillemot said during today's year-end investors call that the company has "everything we need to remain independent."
The metaphorical sharks are circling, according to the earlier report, largely because of Ubisoft's deflating share price—it's current trading at €41.61, less than half its value at the start of 2021—and perhaps a certain FOMO driven by recent big moves from Microsoft (opens in new tab), Sony (opens in new tab), Take-Two (opens in new tab), and Embracer (opens in new tab). But Guillemot made it clear in his opening remarks that he's not interested in selling out.
"There has been a lot of talk around consolidation in the industry, and Ubisoft in particular," Guillemot said. "Our overall position is clear and well known: As we said last February, we have everything we need to remain independent. We have the talent, the industrial and the financial scale, and a large portfolio of powerful IPs to create massive value in the coming years."
The upside to the speculation, Guillemot said, is that it "is putting in plain sight the real appeal and value of our assets and our value creation potential."
Guillemot's comments echo remarks he made in February, when the possibility of a buyout was raised during the company's Q3 investors call. He also repeated his commitment to consider any offers, although he was a bit clearer that it's primarily because the company is legally obligated to do so: "I've mentioned before, as a publicly listed company, it is standard practice for our board to review any offer in the interest of all shareholders and of our creative teams," he said.
It's all hypothetical at this point, but it won't be Ubisoft's first takeover tussle if it comes to that: The publisher spent most of 2016 fending off a hostile takeover by Vivendi (opens in new tab) that at one point looked pretty likely to succeed. The resistance to a takeover isn't entirely a mystery: Ubisoft was founded in 1986 by the Guillemot family—Yves, the CEO, and his brothers Christian, Claude, Gerard, and Michel—and while it's now a publicly traded company, they still hold 22.3% of net voting shares.