French media conglomerate Vivendi may look to acquire developer Ubisoft this year, possibly through a hostile takeover, Reuters reported.

Vivendi has been acquiring shares of the French video game developer for several years. In December, Vivendi confirmed it had obtained a 25 percent stake in Ubisoft and, as GamesIndustry noted, the company would be required to make a formal purchase bid for Ubisoft if its ownership stake surpasses 30 percent.  

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Vivendi has publicly denied it wants to acquire Ubisoft. In a statement last year, the company said it hoped to work alongside Ubisoft and was “not considering the launch of a public tender nor acquiring the control of the company.” However, sources told Reuters the conglomerate wants to acquire the developer and French advertising firm Havas by the end of the year to bolster its standing among investors concerned about lackluster earnings and share performance. If a potential bid fails, Vivendi could also look to acquire a Chinese game developer instead. 

For its part, Ubisoft has steadfastly opposed the idea of being acquired by Vivendi. The studio has said an acquisition by the conglomerate, which had previously wrestled control of mobile games studio Gameloft from Ubisoft’s Guillemot family, would strictly limit its creative freedom and ability to launch original properties.

In a statement from 2015 following Vivendi’s initial purchase of a 6.6 percent share of Ubisoft, the studio emphasized its desire to avoid being acquired.

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“We take note of the unsolicited action on the part of Vivendi,” Ubisoft said. “We reiterate our intention to remain independent, an approach that, since the company’s founding 30 years ago, enabled it to become the third-largest video game developer in the world.”