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Tencent Group buys another 10% of Vivendi’s Universal Music

Universal Music Group artist Ariana Grande
Chinese internet company Tencent has acquired another 10% stake in Universal Music Group, whose artists include Ariana Grande.
(Chris Pizzello / Invision/AP)

A Tencent Holdings Ltd.-led consortium will acquire an additional 10% of Universal Music Group, in a deal that values the world’s biggest music company at nearly $37 billion.

The purchase will bring Tencent’s holding in the music group to 20% following a deal last year for a stake at the same valuation. UMG’s connection to the Chinese internet giant will help boost its expansion in Asia, and Tencent also will take a minority holding in UMG’s Chinese subsidiary, the label’s parent company, Vivendi SA, said in a statement on Friday.

Vivendi will sell additional minority stakes in UMG ahead of its plans to list the unit by 2022. The company plans to use cash from the deals to reduce debt and to finance share buybacks and acquisitions. UMG’s entry onto the stock market could give the music group more financial clout to compete with rivals such as Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment.

Vivendi shares rose 1.2% to 26.29 euros in Paris Friday morning. The company’s stock has gained 1.9% this year. Tencent declined 0.5% in Hong Kong.

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The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. has sent letters to companies, including Epic Games Inc., Riot Games and others part-owned by China’s Tencent, to inquire about their security protocols in handling Americans’ personal data.

For Tencent, the increased stake will help it continue to diversify a business that’s heavily focused on gaming and the Chinese market. In other deals this year, Tencent helped orchestrate the combination of Huya Inc. and DouYu International Holdings Ltd., creating a Chinese game-streaming giant with a market value of more than $11 billion. It also has proposed taking private Chinese gaming firm Leyou Technologies Holdings Ltd.

Universal Music and other record labels have been boosted by a surge in streaming that has dragged the industry out of a decade-long slump, helping Vivendi through the pandemic lockdown.

The deal will close during the first half of 2021, subject to regulatory approvals.


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