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French Authorities Fine Ubisoft Executives Over Insider Trading, Ubisoft to Fight Decision

December 10, 2016Written by Zarmena Khan

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2016 hasn’t exactly been a great year for Ubisoft. As the Assassin’s Creed developer celebrated its 30 years of operation, it continued to fight an ongoing threat of a takeover by Vivendi. And if that isn’t enough, five of its executives have now been collectively fined $1.2 million by French regulators for insider trading – an allegation that Ubisoft vehemently denies.

France’s Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) accused five executives, including Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat, for selling stock in early October 2013, right before announcing that The Crew and Watch Dogs were to be delayed to 2014. Following the announcements, Ubisoft’s stock fell by 25 percent.

Ubisoft slammed AMF’s decision and intends to fight its case. In a statement, the studio said that its executives weren’t aware of the delays at the time of selling stock and acted in good faith.

Ubisoft acknowledges the AMF’s decision, but continues to assert that the people involved acted in good faith. We are convinced that these team members did not intentionally commit any acts contrary to market regulations.

Similarly, given the processes and timetables involved in the production of major games at our company and within our industry in general, we believe that at the time they carried out their transactions these employees could not have been aware of or anticipate the subsequent decision to postpone the game that would be taken by Yves Guillemot on October 11, 2013.

Regrettably, the AMF’s decision represents a serious misunderstanding of the game development and production process at our company and common to our industry. Each major game requires the involvement of multiple teams across the company, but ultimately only the company’s CEO can make an exceptional decision such as changing a game’s release date.

Here’s a breakdown of the fines imposed by AMF courtesy of Kotaku:

Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat – €700,000

Ubisoft VP of corporate affairs Francis Baillet – €200,000

Ubisoft worldwide studios exec director Christine Burgess – €200 000

Ubisoft Montreal VP of executive operations Olivier Paris – €100,000

Ubisoft brand development director Damien Moret – €15,000

Elsewhere, Ubisoft continues its fight to remain independent. The developer has said on numerous occasions that a Vivendi takeover would prevent it from taking risks and will curb creativity.

[Source: Kotaku]