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Vivendi Universal denies Ubisoft takeover rumours

Ubisoft not on the menu as possible EA takeover looms.

Publisher Vivendi Universal Games has flatly denied rumours that it is in negotiations with Ubisoft regarding a possible merger or takeover, quashing speculation which stemmed from a French newspaper report.

In a terse statement issued yesterday, VU Games said simply that "in view of the rumours reported in the press, Vivendi Universal denies that any negotiations are taking place concerning the takeover of Ubisoft."

The company was responding to a report in French newspaper L'Agefi, which said that VU Games was considering a buyout of the rival publisher and cited sources close to the rumoured deal saying that talks had already taken place between the firms.

However, VU's statement seems to comprehensively scotch the rumours - which seemed unlikely in the first place, given that the Vivendi Universal group is still climbing its way out of crippling debts, and that the firm's own videogames division has been underperforming badly for a couple of years.

The report came in the wake of Electronic Arts' surprise purchase of almost 20 per cent of Ubisoft's stock late last month, in a move which has been categorised by the French publisher's board of directors as "hostile".

Infogrames CEO Bruno Bonnell this week said that his company could be prepared to help Ubisoft fight off any hostile takeover attempt by EA, while reports indicate that the French government is also watching the situation closely.

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