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UMG'S BOOMING FIRST
HALF OF 2019

Universal Music Group had a strong first half of 2019 as revenues rose 18.6% to $3.63b while EBITDA hit $536m, a spike of 43.6%.

UMG’s parent, Vivendi, says it has selected the banks to handle the sale of up to half of the music company, and several contacts have been established with potential strategic partners. Which companies they are will remain a mystery until PricewaterhouseCoopers makes an announcement.

Vivendi Chairman of the Management Board and CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine said he is "not in a position to provide any further comment" on specifics of the sale. "We're managing the process in a very controlled way."

Recorded music revenues grew by 16.9% at constant currency. Streaming and subscriptions were up 25.5% to $1.75b, physical sales rose 15% to $489m and Music Publishing was up 10.5% to $521m. Only downloads dropped, down 15.6% to $236m.

The spike in physical owed to strong sales of the Queen catalog, A Star is Born soundtrack and King and Prince in Japan.

de Puyfontaine touted UMG’s success at Spotify, noting that the company has eight of the top 10 songs for the first half of 2019, including all of the top six, with Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” at #1.

He said the sale process had progressed “in line with the original timeline,” offering a French proverb that essentially says “there is no need to rush, we must take things step by step.”­

Vivendi brass noted they have high hopes for H2 releases from Taylor Swift, Lionel Richie, DJ Snake and the soundtracks for the next Star Wars, Frozen 2 and The Lion King.

Vivendi is likely to take full advantage of the strong performance in H1 2019 as it starts to establish a valuation and sale price for a chunk of UMG.

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