European media giant Vivendi has sold off its stakeholding in Assassin’s Creed games studio Ubisoft for nearly US$2.5 billion, with Chinese tech monolith Tencent among the new shareholders.
The deal sees Vivendi selling all 30.5 million of its shares – 27.3% of the entire business – for €2 billion (US$2.45 billion) to various investors.
These include a Canadian pension fund and Chinese VOD player Tencent, which bought 5.6 million shares at US$81 each.
Vivendi will receive more than double what it spent on the shares overall, but has also agreed not to buy any new ones for at least five years.
Tencent and Ubisoft now also become long-term strategic partners, though the former does not get a seat on the board.
Ubisoft is best known for its games franchises, but also has a film and TV production arm, Ubisoft Motion Pictures, which coproduced France Télévisions’ Rabbid Invasion and the Assasssin’s Creed movie from 2016.
Vivendi, which owns VOD service Dailymotion and a 26.2% stake in super-indie Banijay Group among others assets, has been building its stake in Ubisoft since 2015, since when it has become its largest single shareholder.
Some in the gaming industry have seen this as the beginning hostile takeover of the business, which will now remain under the control of the founding Guillemot family, who will have a majority of voting rights. Vivendi has aways denied it was seeking full control.