Six years later, EA sells stake in Ubisoft

Electronic Arts sells its nearly 15 percent stake in Ubisoft. The smaller, French-based developer is now free from EA's grasps, reports say.

After a contentious six-year relationship, Electronic Arts has sold off its entire ownership interest in Ubisoft, according to news accounts Tuesday.

According to Dow Jones Newswires, which first reported on the sale, Electronic Arts sold its stake in Ubisoft--14.8 percent of the company--to unidentified investors. The major game developer declined to say how much it sold its stake for, Dow Jones reported.

Back in 2004, Electronic Arts acquired approximately 20 percent of Ubisoft, which at the time, reflected EA's desire to "be a consolidator" in the gaming business as developers buckled under the immense cost of building games for more advanced consoles. At the time, Ubisoft wasn't so happy about the acquisition. Yves Guillemot, the company's CEO, said that he viewed the acquisition "on the part of EA as hostile."

EA's interest in Ubisoft was rarely, if ever, hostile. Ubisoft was still free to independently build games even though EA owned a sizable portion of the company. And as EA started acquiring other companies outright, including BioWare and Pandemic Studios , the company stopped short of fully acquiring Ubisoft.

EA alluded to its ownership desires changing in a statement acknowledging its sale of Ubisoft shares. The company said that since it invested in Ubisoft, things have changed, and the France-based developer doesn't fit into its plans any longer.

"Our strategic priorities have changed since our initial investment," EA said in a statement. "More recently, the Ubisoft position has been viewed as a portfolio holding, rather than a strategic holding."

As expected, Ubisoft is pleased with the sale. The company said in a statement to Dow Jones that EA's move "is good news."

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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