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Last Updated: Monday, 30 May, 2005, 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK
Game maker Ubisoft fights back
By Alfred Hermida
Technology editor, BBC News website

Screenshot from Far Cry Instincts
The popular PC shooter Far Cry is coming to consoles
French game maker Ubisoft has appealed to shareholders to resist overtures by US games giant Electronic Arts (EA).

Last December, EA snapped up a 20% stake in one of Europe's largest video game makers.

Since then, Ubisoft has been fighting what it considers a hostile bid.

At the recent E3 games expo in Los Angeles, Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot urged shareholders to hold on to their stocks, saying the value of the company would double in the next two years.

"We are working hard to remain independent," Mr Guillemot told the BBC News website.

Gallic pride

Ubisoft has a portfolio of more than 1,000 games titles and 2,300 developers in studios in Canada, China, France and the US.

Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot
We are in a business of creation. We need to keep the creativity and that is the value of the company
Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft
It has enjoyed success with games such as Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon and Prince of Persia.

EA, the world's largest games company, showed an interest in Ubisoft in December when it bought 20% of the firm.

The move by the American giant provoked strong feelings, with the French press seeing it as an assault on the Gallic gaming industry.

For Mr Guillemot, who started Ubisoft with his four brothers in the mid-1980s, this was unwelcomed attention.

"We know those guys are around," he said, referring to the EA interest.

Big games

Ubisoft's response has been to build up in-house gaming talent and develop a range of big name brands.

At the E3 show, Ubisoft showed off its latest weapons in the fight for independence.

Screenshot from Ghost Recon 3 for the Xbox 360
Ghost Recon is getting a makeover for the Xbox 360
Among the big name titles on display were the game of Peter Jackson's King Kong, a console version of the PC hit game Far Cry, a new Prince of Persia, and a version of Ghost Recon 3 for the Xbox 360.

"We prefer by far to remain independent as we will be able to double our value in the next two years as we will double our effort," said Mr Guillemot.

"The profits of the company will grow fast because the products are selling well and generating lots of revenue."

"If our shareholders are happy with what we do they will not sell their shares, they will keep them as it is a great investment for them," he said.

Ubisoft's sales have risen fast over the past five years, hitting 537m euros (389m) in the 2004-2005 financial year.

Eight of its games, such as Splinter Cell and Prince of Persia, sold more than 17 million copies worldwide.

"We are in a business of creation," said Mr Guillemot, "we need to keep the creativity and that is the value of the company."

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