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French game maker Ubisoft open to new partners after Tencent deal, CEO says

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UbisoftFrance’s largest video game maker is still open to other partners after a deal in which China’s Tencent will increase its stake in the company, co-founder and CEO Yves Guillemot said Thursday.

Guillemot’s comments, made during a private press event that the company had asked not to be made public ahead of an online showcase event on Saturday, came on the heels of a rough day. Ubisoft‘s stock, which plummeted 17% after the group announced that Tencent would become the largest shareholder with 11% general interest.

The deal values ​​the creator of “Assassin’s Creed” at about $10 billion.

“We remain completely independent and we can act with any outside company if we want,” said Guillemot, who, along with his four brothers Ubisoft in 1986. “That was a big negotiation with Tencent,” he added. “We can do whatever we want.”

Traders and analysts have said the Tencent deal, which sees the world’s largest games company sign a shareholder pact with the Guillemots in revenue terms, will diminish the speculative appeal of Ubisoft shares.

The group has long been viewed as a takeover target, as the Guillemots have a minority stake in the group. Yet the Guillemot brothers managed to fend off a raid by the French tycoon Vincent Bollore through his media group Vivendi.

The smaller mobile video game maker Gameloft, formerly headed by Yves Guillemot’s brother, Michel, was swallowed by Vivendi six years ago.

The secretive siblings, sons of agricultural traders from a small town in Brittany, western France, have vowed to protect their independence, a goal Yves Guillemot, 62, reaffirmed on Thursday. “Our first intention is to own our destiny,” he said.

Meaningful Progress

That prospect was recently put to the test by a combination of weak financial results and allegations of sexual harassment, leading to a revamp of the company’s board of directors and commitments to change a company culture labeled as sexist by some former employees. .

“Yes, we have stumbled, and we recognize that,” said Guillemot. “We have learned a lot along the way and made meaningful progress with concrete action plans led jointly by our leaders.”

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