Vivendi Keeps Revenues Afloat in 2020 Thanks to UMG, Canal Plus Group

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In a year marked by the coronavirus pandemic, Vivendi was able to keep its revenues in 2020 stable thanks to the growth of Universal Music Group (UMG) and pay TV group Canal Plus Group, which helped offset the slowdown in other businesses.

The company’s revenues reached €16,090 million, a 1.2% year-on increase. The company’s EBITA also went up by 6.6% to $1.97 billion (€1.63 billion) in 2020, and earning before provision for income taxes skyrocketed by 47.7% to $2.63 billion (€2.18 billion). Meanwhile, Vivendi’s financial net debt increased by $1.07 billion (€889 million) to $5.97 billion (€4.95 billion) as of Dec. 30, 2020.

Vivendi ended 2020 on a high note with the sale of an additional 10% of Universal Music Group to a consortium led by Tencent, in a deal that values the thriving music company at 30 billion euros. The consortium now owns 20% of Universal Music Group and Vivendi is currently planning the distribution of 60% of UMG’s share capital to Vivendi’s shareholders.

UMG’s shares will be listed at the stock market in Amsterdam. A shareholders’ meeting will take place on March 29 “to modify the company’s by-laws and make the principle of this distribution in kind possible and pursue this project.”

In 2020, UMG’s revenues were fairly stable at $8,967 (€7,432 million), up 4.7% at constant currency and perimeter compared to 2019. Revenues were driven by recorded music revenues (up 6.7%), bolstered by the growth in subscription and streaming revenues (up 16.2%).

Bestsellers in 2020 included new releases from The Weeknd, Lil Baby, Pop Smoke, BTS, Justin Bieber, King & Prince, Taylor Swift and Juice WRLD, among others.

UMG also had four of the Top 5 artists of the year on Spotify globally — Drake, J Balvin, Juice WRLD and The Weeknd.

Over at Canal Plus Group, the subscriber portfolio rose slightly to 21.8 million, compared to 20.3 million at the end of December 2019. The pay TV group’s revenues were €5,498 million, a 4.4% year-on increase. Pay TV in mainland France also recorded 262,000 more subscribers over the past 12 months, and revenues from international operations rose sharply by 19.8%.

Studiocanal’s revenues, meanwhile, fell by 17.0% due to the impact of the pandemic on filming and distribution of movies and series. The strong sales of library titles helped offset these difficulties.

“Although the COVID-19 pandemic is having a more significant impact on certain countries or businesses than others, in 2020, Vivendi has demonstrated resilience in adapting its activities to continue to best serve and entertain its customers, while reducing costs to preserve its margins,” the company said.

“It is difficult at this time to determine how it will impact Vivendi’s results in 2021. Businesses related to advertising and live performance have a risk of being more impacted than others. Nevertheless, the Group remains confident in the resilience of its main businesses,” it added.

Vivendi has been looking to further expand its scope in the publishing sector following the acquisition of Editis. Back in December the company entered exclusive negotiations with Gruner + Jahr/Bertelsmann to acquire 100% of Prisma Media, a leading publishing group in France. Vivendi also recently a 26.7% stake in Lagardere, a publishing and retail group whose top assets include Hachette Livre, the largest publishing company in France and the world’s third largest trade and educational publisher.