Universal Music Group’s long-awaited debut on the stock market doesn’t officially launch until Tuesday morning in Europe, but the process just began with Euronext announcing that the technical reference price for UMG’s shares is around $21.70 per share (€18.50), which would place its value at around $39 billion.
The price, which was communicated to Euronext by Vivendi, UMG’s current parent company, was first reported by Reuters. UMG’s parent company Vivendi is preparing to spin off 60% of Universal on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange on Tuesday.
However, that number could change dramatically one the market opens: such reference prices are guides. UMG is poised for a valuation of as much as $48 billion after the curtain actually rises.
As the world’s largest label group, not to mention the second largest music publisher (according to Music & Copyright), UMG’s assets are more than impressive. The company recently spent hundreds of millions of dollars investing in talent — most notably in its eye-popping $300 million acquisition of Bob Dylan’s publishing catalog — a move that turned out to be prescient. In fact, a JP Morgan report says, “We would be worried if UMG were not investing ahead of a decade of double-digit industry growth.”
While the stage for the IPO was set with industry rumblings in 2018 and continued with Chinese media giant Tencent’s acquisition of 20% of the company (and billionaire Bill Ackman’s acquisition of 10% last month), the company’s spinoff from parent Vivendi could not have asked for a more inviting welcome mat than this week’s robust mid-year report from the Recording Industry Assn. of America, which reported 27% improvement over revenue in the first six months of 2021 — a year-over-year number strongly influenced by the pandemic — which essentially promises a seventh straight year of global growth.
“Many had left the industry for dead a decade ago, especially with piracy and a lot of the issues facing the music industry,” says Daniel Ives, managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities. “Now they come out smelling like roses. When you look at Universal, Warner Music and overall streaming with Apple Music and Spotify, it’s been a massive turnaround that very few predicted would happen.”
Last year, the U.S. trade’s $12.2 billion accounted for more than half of the $21.6 billion global revenue reported by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, so the RIAA report sets the stage nicely for the world’s largest music company to step out from Vivendi, its parent since 2001, a move that allows investors a pure-play opportunity to capitalize on music’s momentum.
How much momentum? We should know by mid-day Tuesday…