Universal Music Quarterly Revenue Rises, IPO Planned for 2022

Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine
Courtesy of Getty Images

Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine

French entertainment and telecom conglomerate Vivendi provides a third-quarter financial update.

French entertainment and telecom conglomerate Vivendi on Tuesday said its third-quarter revenue edged up 1.3 percent, or 0.7 percent assuming constant currencies and adjusting year-ago figures for acquisitions, to 4.02 billion euros ($4.76 billion).

Universal Music Group, home to the likes of Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Drake, Post Malone and Lady Gaga, recorded a third-quarter revenue gain of 3 percent, or 6.1 percent assuming constant currencies and adjusted for a deal, to $2.20 billion (1.86 billion euros). Vivendi said this was "driven by the music streaming platforms."

Vivendi also said on Tuesday that it was planning an initial public offering for Universal Music for 2022. Previously, it had mostly spoken of IPO plans by 2023, in July saying it would happen in early 2023 "at the latest."

For the first nine months of 2020, Universal Music's revenue rose 4.4 percent at constant currencies, with recorded music up 6.2 percent and music publishing up 15.6 percent. Recorded music gains were "thanks to the growth in subscription and streaming revenues (+15.8 percent) and the receipt of a digital royalty claim in the first quarter of 2020." Physical music sales fell 10.2 percent for the nine months, and download sales declined by 20.1 percent.

Recorded music best sellers for the first nine included new releases from The Weeknd, King & Prince, BTS, Justin Bieber and Lil Baby, as well as continued sales from Billie Eilish and Post Malone.

Vivendi, led by CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine, on March 31 closed the sale of a 10 percent stake in Universal Music to a consortium led by Chinese online giant Tencent. It has the option to raise that by a further 10 percent until January. Vivendi has also reiterated that it would "pursue the possible sale of additional minority interests in UMG."

For the first nine months of 2020, Vivendi’s total revenue rose 2.4 percent, or fell 1.1 percent in terms of constant currencies and business perimeter, due to the growth at Universal Music and Canal+ and the "resilience of their subscription-based activities." But that was "partially offset by the slowdown in the revenues of [advertising giant] Havas Group and [digital and live entertainment division] Vivendi Village, which were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Pay TV unit Canal+ saw third-quarter revenue rise 7.3 percent, or 0.9 percent on a constant currency basis, with revenue for the nine months up 6.6 percent. The company cited "its international development and the successful integration of M7" as key drivers. But Studiocanal’s nine-month revenue declined by 19.6 percent "as the filming and distribution of movies and series were particularly affected by the pandemic," the firm said.

And video gaming unit Gameloft's revenue rose 2.6 percent in the latest quarter, or 5.2 percent on a constant currency basis, with the nine months figure falling 0.7 percent. "Disney Magic Kingdoms, Asphalt 9: Legends, March of Empires, Dragon Mania Legends and Asphalt 8: Airborne were the best-selling titles of the first nine months of 2020, representing 53 percent of Gameloft’s total revenues," Vivendi said.