Activist fund asks French watchdog to investigate Vivendi musical spin-off

The logo of French media giant Vivendi is pictured in Paris, France, August 12, 2020. REUTERS / Charles Platiau

Activist fund Bluebell has asked the French market regulator to review disclosures by media company Vivendi (VIV.PA) regarding its spin-off of Universal Music Group, arguing that the company had not disclosed certain steps in the process. the transaction to shareholders.

Vivendi, controlled by French tycoon Vincent Bolloré, plans to monetize its crown jewel, the world’s largest music label, by ceding the entity to existing shareholders – for whom it is seeking investor approval.

In Bluebell’s letter to the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), which was seen by Reuters, the fund questioned why Vivendi pursued the merger of two entities within Universal before obtaining approval. of the spin-off as a whole.

The AMF could not be reached immediately for comment. Vivendi declined to comment.

Bluebell, which has not disclosed the amount of its stake in Vivendi, last week called on the company to soften the terms of the spin-off by adding a cash dividend. The fund, which recently led an activist campaign to oust the boss of French food group Danone, said in-kind distribution penalizes minority shareholders from a tax perspective. Read more

Vivendi’s controlling shareholder, Bolloré, would be one of the big winners of the Universal spin-off, which consists of distributing 60% of the label’s capital to shareholders.

The music group, which is behind artists like Lady Gaga and has benefited from the growth in streaming revenue, is 80% owned by Vivendi. It is valued at 33 billion euros. Read more

In its letter, Bluebell indicated that it was asking the AMF to “closely assess the facts and circumstances reported in this matter, and take the appropriate corrective measures to ensure that Vivendi shareholders receive sufficient information. before the general meeting of June 22, 2021.. “

Bloomberg first signaled the AMF’s approach.

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