October 17, 2019 / 4:13 PM / a month ago

Vivendi says Universal draws interest from other investors

FILE PHOTO: The Vivendi logo is pictured at the main entrance of the entertainment-to-telecoms conglomerate headquarters in Paris, March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

PARIS (Reuters) - Vivendi (VIV.PA) said on Thursday that investors other than China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK) had shown interest in buying a minority stake in the French media firm’s music division Universal.

The Paris-based group, controlled by French billionaire Vincent Bollore, is seeking to cash in on the music industry’s revival, driven by a growing thirst for subscription and ad-based music streaming services.

The company said it was still in talks with Tencent for a sale of up to 20% of Universal Music Group (UMG), a potential transaction it announced in August that valued the division at about 30 billion euros ($33 billion). Due diligence and legal documentation is expected to be completed in coming weeks.

Vivendi said other “partners”, which it did not identify, had showed interest in investing at similar price levels.

Universal, the music label of Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande and the Beatles, was the main sales growth driver for the group in the third quarter, jumping by close to 16% on a comparable basis to 1.8 billion euros.

The division was the main contributor to the 7.2% growth in group sales revenues for the period, which totaled 3.97 billion. The analyst consensus was for 3.85 billion, Credit Suisse said.

Universal’s strong performance contrasted with the sluggish sales of Vivendi’s second-biggest division, French pay-TV group Canal Plus, whose third-quarter revenue declined by 0.9% on a comparable basis.

Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Sudip Kar-Gupta, Editing by Sarah White and Edmund Blair

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