French media conglomerate Vivendi is considering the sale of up to 50% of Universal Music Group’s share capital “to one or more strategic partners,” the company said today. Ending speculation about a potential IPO for the world’s biggest music group, Vivendi said it has ruled out a listing “due to its complexity.” Analysts at Liberum this month valued UMG at 20.6B euros ($24.1B), per Bloomberg.
The sale transaction of UMG — whose acts include Lady Gaga, Madonna, Taylor Swift, U2 and the just-signed Rolling Stones — will likely be launched in the fall and could be completed within the next 18 months, Vivendi said. The next step for the Canal Plus parent will be to engage with banks to help identify the strategic partners and establish a floor price for entry into the capital.
Reporting its half-year results today, Vivendi said UMG had significant growth in subscription and streaming revenues (+34.3%) which more than offset the continued decline in both download and physical sales. Recorded music best sellers for the first half of 2018 included new releases from Post Malone, Drake and Migos, as well as the Black Panther soundtrack. Income was 355M euros, up 23.5%, to rep 70% of the total.
Earlier this month, UMG and The Rolling Stones announced an expansive worldwide agreement covering the iconic band’s recorded music and audio-visual catalogues, archival support, global merchandising and brand management.
Back at Vivendi, the sale announcement is the first major corporate move by Yannick Bolloré who took over as Chairman of the Supervisory Board in April, replacing his father, Vincent Bolloré, who was placed under investigation that month over alleged bribery of officials in Africa and has denied the allegations.
Elsewhere at the group, pay-TV Canal Plus saw increased revenues and significant growth in its subscriber base to 16M versus 14.6M at the end of June 2017. Studiocanal had a 17.9% jump in revenues, driven by a larger number of theatrical releases and very strong video sales, particularly of the David Heyman-produced Paddington 2. The Canal Plus Group’s operating income was up 28.4% to $241M.