Thursday, August 26, 2021

Universal Music Group Expects Revenue To Jump As Streaming Booms

Universal Music Group, which is behind singers such as Justin Bieber and is owned by France's Vivendi, expects further revenue growth this year as streaming sales boom and it aims to pay out dividends once it lists in Amsterdam, reports Reuters.

Due to be floated on Sept. 21, the company helps to promote and distribute boyband BTS and singers such as Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande as well as making earnings from rights.

Universal is already valued at around 33 billion euros ($38.80 billion), based on deals struck so far to sell off part of the group to investors including U.S. billionaire William Ackman. Vivendi will spin off 60% of the unit to its own shareholders as part of the process.

Universal executives said at a capital markets day on Wednesday that they expected 2021 revenue to grow by over 10% at constant currencies, with earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rising over 20%.

That would mark a bounce from 2020, when annual sales reached 7.4 billion euros, up 4.7% on a comparable basis.

Lucian Grainge
The company also said it would pay out half of its profits as dividends in the medium term, although it did not detail when payments would start.

Vivendi shares turned positive after the disclosures and were up 0.48% at the market close.

"I believe that we're at the beginning of a new cycle, a new wave of growth," Chairman and Chief Executive Lucien Grainge said.

Universal, which competes with rivals such as Warner and Sony, reaps streaming revenues from subscription platforms such as Spotify, with royalties flowing back to the artists it represents.

It overcame a challenge to the music industry's model in the 2000s when online piracy was rife by leaning on paid downloads and subscriptions, which have caught on.

Physical sales of records have also recovered this year after a blip at the start of COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, and Universal is pushing ahead with new models, striking music licensing deals with social media sites such as TikTok or in areas like video games and fitness applications.

Vivendi, controlled by French billionaire Vincent Bollore, has not ruled out share buybacks as a way to support Vivendi's stock after the Universal initial public offering (IPO), which will see it spin off its big cash cow.

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