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January 6, 2005

Ubisoft denies merger talks

French video games publisher Ubisoft Entertainment SA has denied it is in formal merger talks with its larger US partner Electronic Arts Inc.

By CBR Staff Writer

Eyebrows were raised in December after California-based Electronic Arts announced a 20% stake in Ubisoft. At the time the move was interpreted by Ubisoft’s board as unsolicited and at this stage hostile, which fuelled speculation that a formal takeover bid was in the works.

But Ubisoft is seeking to quash this speculation. There are no negotiations to date with a potential partner, the Paris-based company said in a statement.

Paris-based Ubisoft made the announcement to fend off any possible takeover bid that Electronic Arts might be brewing. Electronic Arts has not officially commented on whether its has its eye on Ubisoft or not.

Ubisoft shares jumped 11% recently on rumors that it was in talks with French telecoms and media giant Vivendi Universal SA to secure a white knight deal. Shares however slid back as the prospect of such a deal faded.

Ubisoft’s founders, the Guillemot family, owns 17.5% of the company and 22.8% of its voting rights. Electronic Arts now owns 18.4% of voting rights.

Ubisoft shares gained over 60% following Electronic Arts’ 20% stake purchase in December.

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