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Universal Music solo project proves a hit with investors By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: A building in Zurich (Switzerland) displays the logo for Universal Music Group (UMG). July 20, 2021. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Universal Music Group’s shares leapt more than a third in their stock market debut on Tuesday as investors bet a boom in music streaming still has a long way to run.

Here are facts about Universal and its flotation:


By revenue, Universal Music Group or UMG is the largest of the “big three” record labels. This record label represents many musicians and song catalogs. It includes Billie Eilish, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan.

Major competitors include Sony (NYSE:) Music, part of Sony, and Warner Music Group. They are thought to be responsible for just below 60% of the global revenue generated from music rights from their catalogs.

Universal was founded in 1930s by Decca Records, a British music label. Later it merged with other companies. Universal purchased EMI’s recording music business for $1.9Billion in 2011. This allowed it to access the catalogs for The Beatles and Radiohead.


Universal is benefiting from a boom in streaming revenues, with young music fans in particular relying on their smartphones to listen to songs. Through deals with Spotify (NYSE:), it makes its money through subscription services.

Additionally, it has contracts with social media platforms like TikTok (NYSE:) to pay artists for use of their music in “user-generated material” on the respective platforms. The terms of these deals aren’t public.

Universal now seeks to expand its presence on social media platforms such as TikTok as well as in fitness apps and games. Digital piracy has already had an impact on the music industry’s sales over the past decade.

Universal is still up against competition from startups and independent labels that want to publish music exclusively in digital format. In its prospectus, the company stated that it expects to expand its streaming business into markets like South Korea, Brazil and India.


Universal was spun off by French media group Vivendi (OTC:). After Universal listed in Amsterdam, Vivendi received 60% of its shares from investors including Vincent Bollore (its controlling shareholder).

Universal had its largest European listing on Tuesday. Its market value increased to close to 47 billion euros (or $55 billion).

Vivendi will retain 10% of Universal following the sale. Tencent China will lead the consortium, while William Ackman (billionaire investor in hedge funds) Pershing Square Holdings’ will control 10%.

Universal’s prospectus stated that Tencent has agreed to consult Bollore on topics such as dividend policy, and certain aspects of the board before any general meetings.


Universal reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of 1.49 billion euros on sales of 7.43 billion euros in 2020. 2. billion euros net debt.

Universal expects sales growth to be in the single digits over the long-term with EBITDA margins in the upper 20% of that range.

($1 = 0.8465 euros)

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