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Universal Music Group Fuels 11.3% Rise in Vivendi’s 2018 Revenues

Vivendi’s revenues were up 11.3% to €13.93 billion ($15.7 billion) in 2018, powered by Universal Music Group, which delivered such hits as the “A Star Is Born” soundtrack and Drake’s new album.

UMG’s revenues climbed by 10% to €6 billion ($6.8 billion) compared to 2017. On top of the “A Star Is Born” soundtrack, the year’s bestsellers were new releases from Drake, Post Malone, The Beatles and XXXTentacion.

Recorded music revenues grew by 9.8%, bolstered by the growth in subscription and streaming revenues, which were up 37.3%. This rise in streaming revenues more than offset the continued decline in both download (-23.5%) and physical (-16.1%) sales.

Vivendi is moving ahead with its plan to sell 50% of Universal Music Group’s share capital to “one or more strategic partners” and expects to select the financial advisors that will assist Vivendi in the sale “in the coming weeks,” the company said.

Vivendi’s income from operations also increased by 22.7%, driven mainly by Universal Music Group but also by Canal Plus Group (+$88 million), which Vivendi said “continues its recovery in France.”

In the absence of a major blockbuster like “Paddington,” Studiocanal’s revenues were on par with 2017 at €462 million ($521 million). The company was France’s second-largest distributor in 2018 thanks to a flurry of successful French films, notably Gilles Lellouche’s “Sink or Swim,” which was one of the highest-grossing French films of 2018 and received 10 Cesar Award nominations.

Canal Plus Group’s overall subscriber portfolio in France and abroad stood at 16.2 million by year-end, compared to 15.6 million in December 2017. But in France, the pay-TV group lost 300,000 subscribers and currently has 7.8 million subscribers. Vivendi attributed the drop to its struggling and soon-to-be-replaced SVOD service Canalplay. The company didn’t mention the steep competition of Netflix, which now has 5 million subscribers in France, according to recent French reports.

During the shareholders meeting, Vincent Bolloré, who presides over Vivendi’s supervisory board, announced his plan to have his son Cyrille replace him at the helm of the board. The arrival of Cyrille Bolloré on the board will have to be approved by a vote during the next meeting on April 15.

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