Universal is going public in Amsterdam this year: Spin-out plan green-lit by Vivendi shareholders

Yannick Bolloré, Vivendi

MBW broke the news in the middle of February that Vivendi was planning to take Universal Music Group public in the Netherlands in 2021.

The Paris-based company has now been given the all-clear to proceed with its plans.

Vivendi held an Extraordinary General Shareholders’ Meeting in Paris today (March 29) and approved the plan to spin out 60% of Universal’s equity, and to start trading on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange by the end of 2021.

Held under the chairmanship of Yannick Bolloré, 73.33% of Vivendi shareholders made their feelings known at today’s meeting.

In turn, those voting Vivendi shareholders approved two resolutions, covering the plan to spin-out UMG, by a rather convincing margin: 99.98%.

According to a media statement issued by Vivendi following the vote today, this means an amendment has been passed that “allows Vivendi to now distribute dividends, interim dividends, reserves, or premiums by way of the delivery of assets in kind, including financial securities”.

As reported by MBW last month, a Vivendi investor release published on February 13 noted that, following the recent sale of UMG equity to a Tencent-led consortium for a €30 billion enterprise value, Vivendi had seen “interests expressed by other investors at potentially higher prices” for stakes in Universal.

A consortium led by Tencent Holdings last month closed the acquisition of a second 10% chunk of UMG equity, taking its total holding to 20%.

That acquisition gave Universal Music Group an enterprise valuation of €30 billion (currently worth around $36 billion).

Vivendi added in its investor release sent out on February 13 that the Netherlands has been a “country which has been one of UMG’s historical homes”.

One reason for Vivendi choosing the Netherlands for the IPO, as pointed out by the Financial Times last month, is that Amsterdam’s Euronext recently overtook the London Stock Exchange as Europe’s biggest share trading center, partly due to “the Netherlands scoop[ing] up business lost by the UK since Brexit”.

Last month’s investor release from Vivendi added that “the transaction has received an initial favorable response from the Tencent-led consortium”.

A note from Exane BNPP last month estimated that the 60% share disposal to Vivendi shareholders would see a post-IPO Universal Music Group approximately owned 20% by the Tencent consortium, 20% by Vivendi, 16% directly by the Bolloré group (which owns around 27% of Vivendi) and 44% by other Vivendi shareholders.

“The unanimous vote in favor of the two resolutions demonstrates the total support of our shareholders for our strategy.”

Arnaud de Puyfontaine, Vivendi

Arnaud de Puyfontaine, Chairman of the Management Board and CEO of Vivendi, said: “The unanimous vote in favor of the two resolutions demonstrates the total support of our shareholders for our strategy.”Music Business Worldwide