Ubisoft plots THQ bid

Ubisoft is one of the front-runners in the bid to buy THQ’s assets, MCV understands.

We have been told that the French firm is keen to take over the publisher’s brands and studios once THQ works through its current financial problems.

On Wednesday night THQ filed for bankruptcy as it handed over its tangible assets – including its studios and US operation – to an investment firm hoping to sell the business on.

No studios or offices are closing, but THQ is now very publicly on the market.

This ‘stalking horse bid’ process with an investor effectively writes off the company’s debts but keeps its business as a going concern to make it ideal for acquisition.

Ubisoft had previously expressed interests in the firm’s assets.

Now sources tell us it is already in lengthy discussions with the firm (and presumably its new owners at Clearlake investments) to forge a deal.

Price, however, is the obvious clincher – nose-tappers say that Ubisoft is after a bargain buy, and is prepared to hold-out until THQ is forced to sell off specific assets, as happened to now-defunct Midway when it went into bankruptcy four years ago.

If successful in the overall acquisition, though, Ubisoft would take over five studios and gain the rights to brands such as Saints Row, Company of Heroes, Darksiders, Homefront, Red Faction. Plus it would pick up the deals for games based on WWE and some Warhammer properties – WWE specifically would offer an expansion opportunity for Ubi, finally giving it a decent stake in the sports genre.

It’d be up to the French firm which of those it keeps going alongside the likes of Assassin’s Creed, Just Dance, Far Cry, its various Tom Clancy games and many other titles.

But CEO Yves Guillemot and his exec team have made no secret of their plans to become the market’s No.1 publisher. Beefing up its business with some ready-built brands and teams – especially on the eve of a new console cycle – would help it achieve that. It has also got a fast growing interest in online games and apps, and arguably can use the talent for that pipeline.

The firm has already had a very successful Christmas season already – with a personal best of three games in the UK top five recently anda big spread of best-selling boxed games releases.

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