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Home Lifestyle The word eco. Vivendi: a page turns
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The word eco. Vivendi: a page turns

Vivendi sells its Universal Music nugget and wants to refocus on the media. (ALEXANDER POHL / NURPHOTO / AFP)

The French group Vivendi, specializing in content, media and communication, will turn a page in its history at the beginning of next week and will get rid of its nugget, Universal Music.

Vivendi will indeed propose to its shareholders at a general meeting, Monday, March 29, to sell 60% of Universal Music, which initiates the IPO of the record company. It should take place by the end of 2021 on the Amsterdam stock exchange.

Universal Music is a leader in its sector and represents a third of the market share in the world. The music label owns the catalogs of Bob Marley and Bob Dylan. It is the record company of Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Angèle and Booba. A group valued today at more than 30 billion euros.

Vivendi is selling Universal Music at a time when the label is at its peak, inflated by the success of streaming platforms (online listening) like Spotify. The world of music is doing well, much better than a few years ago, when artists and their record companies were looted and hacked on the Internet.

This upcoming IPO of Universal Music marks the end of the French adventure of the record company, bought 20 years ago by a certain Jean-Marie Messier. Today, another French entrepreneur holds the reins of Vivendi, Vincent Bolloré. He therefore decided to list 60% of Universal on the stock market, and to use this financial windfall to strengthen its position in the media and publishing. Vivendi will keep 20% of Universal.

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Tomorrow, without Universal, Vivendi is all the same for communication, with Havas, video games with Gamesoft, the media with Canal + and C News, and publishing with Editis, acquired 2 years ago (a group that includes the Plon, Nathan and Robert Laffont houses). Vincent Bolloré does not hide his ambition to strengthen his group around the media and publishing: these are his priority areas of development.

On the media side, Vivendi is gaining ground with a current takeover offer for several titles from the French magazine press included in the Prisma Media group: Here is, Capital, Geo. A buyout from Bertelsmann. The German group also wants to sell its shares in M6 and RTL. Here too, Vivendi is in the running. Even if he is not the only one. Bouygues has also expressed its interest.

With in this specific case, a governance crisis, shareholder crisis, Vivendi has acquired a 25% stake in Lagardère and is contesting Arnaud Lagardère’s strategy. The group is pitching. Europe 1 radio, press headlines JDD, Paris Match, are on the alert.

When to the boss of Hachette Livre, Arnaud Nourry, he stepped up to the plate in the newspaper The world, a few days ago, to explain that a merger with Vivendi made no sense. The strengthening of Vivendi in the media world is fraught with pitfalls, but this does not seem to weaken the determination of its management.

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