Vivendi shareholders approve Universal Music spin-off
Vivendi SE shareholders have approved the French media conglomerate’s plan to split up its Universal Music Group unit, bringing the world’s largest music company closer to its own public entity.
With over 99% approval, shareholders backed the plan to distribute 60% of Universal’s shares to existing Vivendi shareholders and to list the company on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange. Vivendi executives said the listing would take place on September 21.
Universal, home to stars such as Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Queen and The Beatles, has around 40% market share in the domestic recorded music industry (30% worldwide) and operates the second largest company in music publishing company in the world, which last year bought Bob Tout of Dylan’s songwriting catalog.
Over the weekend, Vivendi reached an agreement for a 10% investment in Universal by Pershing Square Tontine Holdings Ltd. by William Ackman, valuing the company at 35 billion euros, or about 40 billion dollars. The Wall Street Journal previously reported on the discussions. In an email to employees, Universal’s chief executive Lucian Grainge called the investment “strong validation.”
Tencent Holdings Ltd. owns about 20% of Universal after the Chinese internet conglomerate doubled its stake last year in a deal that valued the company at around 30 billion euros.
“The fact that we now have, in addition to Vivendi, two committed investors – the consortium led by Tencent, as well as PSTH – is as powerful an endorsement as one might imagine from the investment and technology communities. Mr. Grainge said in the note.
Universal is in the process of joining Warner Music Group Corp. on the public market. The third-largest recorded music company, which owns labels like Atlantic, Elektra and its flagship product Warner Records, as well as Warner Chappell Music, the third-largest music publisher, was listed on Nasdaq last June. Stocks jumped in their early stages and have climbed 15% in the past year.
The resurgence of the music industry has caught the interest of the investment community as it has grown rapidly thanks to the rise of streaming on services such as Spotify and Apple Music. After a 15-year decline amid rampant online piracy, the fortunes of the music industry began to reverse in 2016, when growth in streaming services began to outweigh declining sales. CD and digital download. Streaming now accounts for over 80% of recorded music revenue in the United States and over 60% globally.
—Matthew Dalton contributed to this article.
Write to Anne Steele at [email protected]
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