Tuesday 22 June 2021 3:20 pm

Vivendi shareholders back $40bn Universal Music Spac deal

Shareholders in Vivendi today backed the company’s plans to spin-off its $40bn Universal Music Group through a Spac deal, marking a major boost for billionaire owner Vincent Bollore.

Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, a blank-cheque company run by Bill Ackman, has signed a deal to buy 10 per cent of the iconic record label for $4bn.

Bluebell Capital Partners and investment fund Artisan Partners had hit back against the transaction, saying it was unfavourable to some shareholders and sparking the risk of a potential showdown.

But the proposals, which involve distributing 60 per cent of Universal’s stock to Vivendi shareholders, were waved through with 99 per cent of the votes in favour.

The Spac (special purpose acquisition company) deal will take place ahead of a stock market float in Amsterdam, which could take place on 21 September.

Bollore, who owns a controlling stake in the French media giant, is set to be one of the major winners from the deal.

Bluebell had raised concerns about another resolution put up for vote today, which would allow Vivendi to buy back and cancel its shares for up to 50 per cent of its capital.

The fund questioned whether this would allow Bollore to increase his stake in Vivendi without making a takeover offer for the company.

Bollore’s family-owned group, which currently holds a 27 per cent stake, vowed not to request an exemption on making a tender if it passed the 30 per cent ownership threshold.

The resolution was also passed with 73 per cent of votes in favour.

The votes will allow Vivendi to cash in on its prize asset, which is home to stars including Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.

Universal — the world’s largest music group — has benefited from an industry-wide resurgence in the value of music rights thanks to the growing popularity of streaming services such as Spotify.

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