Ubisoft may hold the interest of private equity firms and other buyers as two reports now indicate the publisher is in an attractive position for potential acquisition. The murmurings around a potential buyout follow a slump in stock prices and ongoing controversies surrounding CEO Yves Guillemot and mismanagement.
According to a Friday story from Bloomberg, private equity firms like Blackstone Inc. and KKR are among those companies considering an Ubisoft acquisition, but the company “hasn’t entered into any serious negotiations with potential acquirers.” Kotaku followed up today in an additional report, with sources indicating years of audit and outside consult may point more towards sale preparations than those conducted for typical practice. Speaking to the outlet, Ubisoft downplayed the speculation and declined to specifically address the rumors.
Kotaku’s sources paint a broader picture of Ubisoft’s ongoing woes, making it a more attractive target to firms shopping around. For years, the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry publisher has faced complaints of project mismanagement, allegations of harassment, and growing dissatisfaction with the executive response. Ubisoft’s previous failures in addressing a toxic workplace culture led to the business bleeding talent, and reports continued to indicate the company was not remedying controversies with meaningful urgency.
Ubisoft’s wave of ugly allegations and regular, inappropriate follow-up responses add to an already troubled climate of flagship IP struggling to find its footing. Guillemot has maintained Ubisoft isn’t seeking a buyer but would entertain the idea should an offer arise. It’s a lot coming from any executives who should probably be more embarrassed about speaking in public following their persistent failures in protecting and compensating employees.
Within the last several years, the games industry has experienced a series of publisher and developer buyouts as cooperations consolidate and snatch up “smaller” players. Earlier this year, Take-Two acquired Zynga for $12.7 billion, and Microsoft bought Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Activision-Blizzard’s own internal turmoil made the deal a better bargain for Microsoft, and the company swooped in when the opportunity to buy arose. It sure is a hellish state of things to describe companies with an abusive workplace culture as the perfect courting grounds for big buy-ins and cooperate opportunists.