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Private-Equity-Acquire-Ubisoft-thefutureparty

Ubisoft may score a buyout

Private-Equity-Acquire-Ubisoft-thefutureparty
Ubisoft // Illustration by Kate Walker

Ubisoft may score a buyout

 

Future. Assassin’s Creed developer Ubisoft may be in the crosshairs of an acquisition. Details on the talks are still shrouded in secrecy. Still, a deal would take Ubisoft out of the running for an acquisition by either Xbox or Sony and may give Ubisoft continued independence to sell to the highest bidder and also supercharge their film and TV output.

Loot box
Is Ubisoft a takeover target?

  • Bloomberg reports that private equity firms such as Blackstone and KKR & Co. are potentially looking to acquire the French video-game developer.
  • It’s still early stages, and everyone is either staying mum or declining to comment, but the move would make strategic sense since Ubisoft’s stock is down 41% this year, giving it a valuation of $5.2 billion.

Even if an offer is made, there’s no indication that Yves Guillemot — Ubisoft’s chairman, co-founder, and largest shareholder with a 15% stake — would want to make a deal. Back in 2018, he thwarted a takeover attempt of major French media company Vivendi SE. Would he feel different today?

Equal-opportunity seller
The emergence of Blackstone as a potential buyer points to the thinking behind wanting to acquire Ubisoft. Blackstone-backed Candle Media (run by Disney vets Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs) is putting together an entertainment company built from companies known either for celebrity caché (Reese Witherspoon) or huge IP (Cocomelon). Ubisoft, which is behind the hugely popular Assassin’s Creed and Tom Clancy franchise, would be both an expansion and a good fit.

Additionally, what makes Blackstone, Candle Media, or any investment firm an obvious fit for Ubisoft — other than how explosive the video-game market is right now — is that they would be able to sell to both Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation equally, just as both companies are snapping up developers in order to shore up their streaming services. That’s the same thinking behind Candle Media’s entertainment strategy.

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