Ubisoft sells discounted shares to employees in wake of takeover threat by Vivendi

Aug 11, 2015
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I'm not good at financial jargon so please point out any translation errors :)

Soon after Vivendi announced they owned 20.10% of Ubisoft shares a few days ago, Ubisoft launched an employee share ownership plan called MMO 2016. The goal is to allow employees to buy shares at a discounted price.

According to the press release, the offer aims to "develop employee share ownership in order to more closely associate its employees with the growth and future results of the group". The offer allows members of the Ubisoft group to buy shares at 15% below market price. There is one condition: the shares are frozen for five years and can't be resold during that period.

This won't disrupt the group's ownership, since the total amount of shares that can be sold can't exceed 3%. However, this move can be seen as a way for Yves Guillemot's company to protect parts of its shares, in a context made tense by Vivendi: the company now owns over 20% of Ubisoft's shares
Source: https://www.ubisoftgroup.com/comsit...é fr final_tcm100-256278_tcm100-196733-32.pdf
Via: http://www.jeuxvideo.com/news/506685/ubisoft-vend-des-actions-a-ses-salaries.htm
 
May 25, 2005
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#7
That's a pretty typical ESPP deal. 15% discount over the lowest price at the beginning/end of the offering period & locked for 'x' years, though 5 is a while.
 

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#9
Uh but doesn't this directly undermine Yves threats of talent exodus? If not enough employees buy shares, but a lot do nonetheless, those lots of employees will be more invested in the company rather than ready to cut ties due to a Vivendi takeover right?
 
Nov 12, 2014
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#13
That actually sounds like it would be a good idea but I thought they were talking with big investors to buy them?
One doesn't block the other. That could make the difference. That's also a way to keep Ubisoft's employees on his side.

Uh but doesn't this directly undermine Yves threats of talent exodus? If not enough employees buy shares, but a lot do nonetheless, those lots of employees will be more invested in the company rather than ready to cut ties due to a Vivendi takeover right?
They could always leave with Yves for a new studio/another different studio and sell the shares in 2021 ?

But yeah that works better if Yves is still the boss.
 
Mar 16, 2015
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#14
Uh but doesn't this directly undermine Yves threats of talent exodus? If not enough employees buy shares, but a lot do nonetheless, those lots of employees will be more invested in the company rather than ready to cut ties due to a Vivendi takeover right?
I can't imagine anyone took that threat very seriously, at the end of the day those people still have to work.
 
Aug 21, 2014
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#16
This is going to be one interesting and potentially tragic battle... Ubisoft have done so much to improve even in the last year or so. Would be a shame if they were taken over.
 
Oct 9, 2013
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#17
The best thing Ubisoft can do right now is greenlight all of the projects that they've ever wanted to do. It'll be harder for Vivendi to stop a train that's already in motion.

They can cancel a game, but it's much more difficult than saying "no" to an idea.
 
May 9, 2016
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#18
Not woth it for the employees in my opinion.
Assuming the value of the shares stays the same, they need to wait 5 years for just a 15% "growth".
If the value tanks, they're fucked.

They should ask for a better discount (something closer to 30%) so its worth the risk or let Ubisoft be taken over.
 
Jun 10, 2004
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#22
This won't disrupt the group's ownership, since the total amount of shares that can be sold can't exceed 3%. However, this move can be seen as a way for Yves Guillemot's company to protect parts of its shares, in a context made tense by Vivendi: the company now owns over 20% of Ubisoft's shares
At only 3%, it could also just be seen as an ordinary employee share ownership system.
 
Mar 13, 2016
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#23
The employees should revolt and sell the shares to vivendi...

joking aside, this gotta be really stressful seeing the record track vivendo has with acquired companies
 
Sep 29, 2015
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#26
The total amount of shares sold can't be more than 3% per person? It says in total, so I assume that's not the case. I doubt this will do much to stop a hostile takeover, but Ubirobay have a few more ideas like this that will add up and help their situation.
 
Dec 9, 2014
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#28
The total amount of shares sold can't be more than 3% per person? It says in total, so I assume that's not the case. I doubt this will do much to stop a hostile takeover, but Ubirobay have a few more ideas like this that will add up and help their situation.
AFAIK each Guillemot brother owns 9% of Ubi - so that's 45%. A further 3% between all employees (as I understand it) leaves Ubi shares at 48%. If Ubi can buy back another 3% from somewhere... everything will be fine. If.
 
Jun 10, 2004
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#32
The total amount of shares sold can't be more than 3% per person? It says in total, so I assume that's not the case. I doubt this will do much to stop a hostile takeover, but Ubirobay have a few more ideas like this that will add up and help their situation.
Le nombre total d'Actions pouvant être cédées dans le cadre de cette opération et/ou de toute offre d’actionnariat salarié qui présenterait un profil économique similaire et serait mise en œuvre selon Un calendrier analogue (l’« Offre Similaire ») est fixé à 3.371.634, représentant 3% du capital de la Société à la date de la décision du Conseil d'administration du 19 avril 2016 (ci-après l'« Enveloppe Globale »).
In total as I understand, not per person.
 
Aug 21, 2014
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#33
What have they done exactly?
Started releasing games like Rainbow six siege, Far Cry Primal, soon Steep and For Honor. They seem to have taken the criticisms of Watch Dogs to heart and the sequel looks way better. They gave Assassains Creed a much needed year off. They are making a sequel to the brilliant Grow Home.
 
May 15, 2005
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#34
What have they done exactly?
I'm wondering this myself. I've need nothing change at all. :-/

If this would be a developer with a great pedigree that didn't do everything to screw the consumer over, I would feel bad for them.
But this is Ubisoft... A nice shakeup might be the best thing to happen to them in a damn long time.
And on the other hand, it's Vivendi. lol
 
Aug 21, 2014
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#36
I'm wondering this myself. I've need nothing change at all. :-/

If this would be a developer with a great pedigree that didn't do everything to screw the consumer over, I would feel bad for them.
But this is Ubisoft... A nice shakeup might be the best thing to happen to them in a damn long time.
Yeah because Vivendi would mean "a nice shake up"...
 
Aug 11, 2015
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#37

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#38
AFAIK each Guillemot brother owns 9% of Ubi - so that's 45%. A further 3% between all employees (as I understand it) leaves Ubi shares at 48%. If Ubi can buy back another 3% from somewhere... everything will be fine. If.
This may even mean Ubi has already found a buyer for 3% to negotiate control
 
Aug 11, 2015
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#39
Why are people against the Vivendi takeover?
Yves Guillemot's stance is that Vivendi does not understand the video game business and haven't explained what potential synergies they see between Ubisoft and Vivendi, despite Ubisoft's written requests. Also, Ubisoft isn't interested in working with Studio Canal (a French film production company/distributor owned by Vivendi) since they already work with the biggest studios from Hollywood

Bolloré has a habit of slowly buying shares of companies while denying he wants to take over, then takes over anyway, demands seats at the Board of Directors and finally fires/replaces top management.

Also, since Vincent Bolloré took over at Vivendi, TV station Canal Plus has been bleeding subscribers and hosts. It's editorial independence has suffered, too, with accusations of censoring news reports critical of Bolloré's business partners.
 
Jul 16, 2008
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#40
That's a pretty typical ESPP deal. 15% discount over the lowest price at the beginning/end of the offering period & locked for 'x' years, though 5 is a while.
Locked? Never saw that at the 2 large companies I worked for that had ESPPs. My last company allowed us to automatically cash out after buying at the end of each 6 month purchase period. I miss that great ESPP because I am pretty much living in the house I saved the down payment for with the plan.

My current employer doesn't do an ESPP and after a year I decided I had to put a few% into company stock in my 401k just so I would give a shit. When I had an ESPP I was very interested in the stock price, without one, I only really cared about the market as a whole. Its a good way to build more interest in stock prices and employee engagement.
 
Jul 4, 2013
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#42
At the very least, this will surely drive up the price of shares right?
Down if anything, since percent ownership per share would be reduced. Of course share price by itself doesn't really mean anything. A move like this shouldn't really affect the value of the company (well, maybe down a bit since they are being sold at a discount).

My understanding is that these are shares of Ubisoft owned by Ubisoft itself being sold to employees, but I'm definitely not an expert on finance.
 
Jun 10, 2004
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#44
AFAIK each Guillemot brother owns 9% of Ubi - so that's 45%. A further 3% between all employees (as I understand it) leaves Ubi shares at 48%. If Ubi can buy back another 3% from somewhere... everything will be fine. If.
Where did you get those numbers from? Vivendi has 20%, the top 10 institutional holders own more than 20%, and the guillemot family 9% in total, with the rest among other investors. That's as far as I see (am on mobile and cannot access Google and various finance sites here).