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Ubisoft execs accused of insider trading

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Ubisoft is under threat of an imminent hostile takeover by Vivendi, but it may have a few other woes as well. According to Kotaku, a handful of the company’s Montreal executives are under investigation for insider trading.

It all comes down to delays. Before the announcement in 2013 that Watch Dogs and The Crew would both only see release in 2014, a number of executives sold off some of their stock. That stock would end up losing 25% of its value following word of the delay.

France’s stock regulator, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), alleges that that Ubisoft Montreal’s CEO Yannis Mallat and four other Ubisoft execs shed stock in the weeks prior to the delay announcement. They suggest that the 5 had insider knowledge, and have thus violated France’s insider trading laws. For what it’s worth, Mallat denies the claims.

Kotaku reached out to Ubisoft for comment, and received the following statement as reply:

Ubisoft is aware that an action being brought by the French Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) involves five of our team members. Those individuals vigorously dispute their implication in this matter and the AMF’s interpretation of the facts. Yves Guillemot, Co-Founder and CEO of Ubisoft, does not question the good faith of the people involved and has reassured them that they have his full support and trust.

These proceedings revolve around Ubisoft’s temporary stock market drop in the fall of 2013, after it was announced that Watch Dogs and The Crew would be delayed. The French AMF is alleging that before the announcement the team members in question may have sold securities while being in possession of insider information. The proceedings will continue in November at the Commission des Sanctions (sanctions board) in Paris.

Ubisoft itself has not been charged by the AMF.

Moreover, three of the Canadian team members implicated in the AMF’s action today filed a motion with the Superior Court of Québec demanding that the procedure be declared invalid and seeking damages against AMF France and AMF Québec.

These are obviously quite serious allegations, but it seems that upper management at Ubisoft is standing resolute. I wonder though, if their sold securities have ended up in Vivendi’s hands.

Last Updated: November 15, 2016

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