The French media giant on Monday informed analysts and investors it would sell half of UMG to “one or more strategic partners, in order to extract the highest value,” but an IPO is not an option “due to its complexity.”
“We will only choose investors who are compatible with Universal Music Group’s current strategy,” Chief Executive Officer Arnaud de Puyfontaine told analysts during a conference call on the release of its half-yearly results. “The proceeds could be used for a significant share repurchase, reduction of capital and bolt-on acquisitions.”
For the full year 2017, UMG reported 798 million euros in operating income (up 16.2 per cent) on revenues of 5.67 billion euros (up 7.7 per cent), thanks to bumper gains from streaming platforms, music publishing and merch. The year got off to another hot start when UMG dominated the Billboard 200 albums chart for a week in April, when the major logged four of the top 5 and eight of the top 10 titles.
The UMG business put up another “strong performance” in the first half, according to Vivendi’s latest report.
Goldman Sachs last year valued UMG at US$23.5 billion and analysts at Liberum recently appraised Universal Music at 20.6 billion euros, meaning any partner keen to buy in would need to offer upwards of US$10 billion. The sum could be as high as US$15 billion, Bloomberg speculates.
Vivendi will soon start hiring banks to help identify those potential partners. The Paris-based media conglomerate will establish a floor price for the entry of partners, which is expected to take place later this year and could be completed within the next 18 months.