Universal Music Group Uplifts Vivendi During Coronavirus-Hit Quarter

Universal Music Group and Canal Plus Group’s international operations helped Vivendi stay afloat during the first half of 2020 which saw the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The European media giant posted a 3% year-on increase in revenues to €7.5 billion ($8.87 billion) during the first semester of 2020 which ended on June 30. During […] …

Universal Music Group and Canal Plus Group’s international operations helped Vivendi stay afloat during the first half of 2020 which saw the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

The European media giant posted a 3% year-on increase in revenues to €7.5 billion ($8.87 billion) during the first semester of 2020 which ended on June 30. During the second quarter of 2020, as lockdown measures were enforced in most countries where Vivendi is active, revenues dropped by 4.8% to €3.7 billion ($4.3 billion).

Vivendi’s EBITA was also slightly up by 2.4% to €735 million during the first half, while its adjusted net income was up 5.4% to €583 million ($690 million). The results were unveiled on Thursday during Vivendi’s Supervisory Board which was chaired by Yannick Bolloré.

Vivendi said the good results were driven by its two main businesses, Universal Music Group (UMG) whose subscription services continued to grow, and Canal Plus Group, the pay-TV banner whose international operations also progressed.

UMG’s revenues were €3.4 billion ($4 billion), up 3.5% compared to the first half of 2019, driven by 3.7% increase in recorded music revenues and a 12.4% increase in subscription and streaming revenues.

“This increase was achieved despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which mainly affected the second quarter of 2020,” said Vivendi, adding that the pandemic did affect physical sales which were down 22.4% compared to the first half of 2019. Download sales also dropped by 23.1% during the first half. New releases from The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, King & Prince, Eminem and Lil Baby were among the recorded music best sellers.

The health crisis, however, impacted the advertising and marketing group Havas Group, as well as the event-focused Vivendi Village. But Vivendi said “the earnings impact was partially offset by lower expenses.”

Right when the pandemic severely hit Europe in March, Vivendi managed completed the sale of 10% of UMG’s share capital to a consortium led by Tencent based on an enterprise value of €30 billion ($35 billion) for 100% of UMG. This operation, along with other deals closed in the last couple years, notably the sale of Ubisoft’s stake, have given Vivendi a significant financing capacity. As of June 30, the group has €3.7 billion available in credit lines, according to the company.

Under the terms of deal inked with the Tencent-led consortium, Tencent Music Entertainment and other financial co-investors have the option to acquire – on the same valuation basis — up to an additional 10% of UMG by Jan. 15.

While an IPO is scheduled for early 2023 at the latest, Vivendi is also currently “pursuing the possible sale of additional minority interests in UMG with the assistance of several mandated banks.”

During the first half of 2020, Vivendi also participated in Banijay’s takeover of Endemol Shine and owns 32.9% of the new entity which ranks as the biggest non-U.S. production and distribution company.

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