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Vivendi’s Third Quarter Results Up Nearly 17%, UMG Still Rising

Vivendi saw its third quarter revenues increase by 16.7% to €3.97 billion ($4.4 billion) compared with the third quarter of 2018, once again boosted by the growth of Universal Music Group, while Canal Plus Group remained stable.

For the first nine months of 2019, Vivendi’s revenues reached €11.3 billion ($12.5 billion), an increase of 14.6% compared to the same period in 2018.

Universal Music Group’s (UMG) revenues were up 17.5% to €5.06 billion ($5.63 billion) compared to the first nine months of 2018. Recorded music revenues grew by 15.6%, bolstered by the growth in subscription and streaming revenues (up by 23.4%) and strong physical sales (up 14.9%). All these helped offset the continued decline in download sales, which were down by 20.4%.

Since the beginning of the year, UMG’s bestsellers were the new releases from Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Post Malone and the Japanese band King & Prince, as well as continued sales of the soundtrack from “A Star Is Born” and several albums from Queen.

During the third quarter, UMG also scored big with Taylor Swift’s “Lover,” which had the biggest sales week for any album in the United States since the release of her last album, Reputation, in 2017. “Lover” sold nearly 700,000 copies in traditional album sales, surpassing 1 million in total consumption.

Post Malone’s “Hollywood’s Bleeding” had the biggest streaming week for an album in the U.S. in 2019, with more than 365 million on-demand audio streams.

UMG’s merchandising and other revenues skyrocketed by 82.4% compared to the first nine months of 2018, driven by the increased touring activity and growth in retail and direct-to- consumer revenues.

Vivendi announced in August that it had begun negotiations with Chinese digital giant Tencent to sell it a 10% stake in Universal Music Group. The negotiations were based on a valuation of UMG of €30 billion ($33 billion) and give Tencent a one-year option to purchase another 10% stake on the same terms.

Vivendi said the “due diligence process and the finalization of the legal documentation should be completed in the coming weeks.”

The company also said it would be “potentially selling an additional minority stake in UMG to other partners, some of whom have already expressed an interest in investing at a similar price level.”

Over at Canal Plus Group, the revenues were on par with last year’s third quarter at €1.29 billion ($1.43 billion). For the first nine months of this year, the pay-TV group’s revenues were also about the same as last year’s first nine months at €3.8 billion ($4.23 billion).

Thanks to its recent acquisition of the pay-TV operator M7, Canal Plus Group was able to increase its subscriber base by nearly 3 million to 19 million subscribers and increase its revenues from international operations by 6.1%. In mainland France, however, the overall individual subscriber base fell to 7.9 million, compared to 8.1 million at the end of September 2018.

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