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Vivendi knocked back $8.5 billion bid for Universal Music

By | Published on Friday 19 July 2013

Universal Music

A Japanese telecoms group called SoftBank recently made a bid for the Universal Music Group, it has been revealed, but the mega-major’s current owners, French firm Vivendi, said “no, no, no”. Or “non, non, non” presumably. Or possibly “いいえ, いいえ, いいえ”. According to the Financial Times, SoftBank offered a neat $8.5 billion for the world’s biggest music rights company, which would buy you an awful lot of Justin Bieber records.

It’s thought the telecoms giant was attracted to Universal because of the increasing importance of music services in the mobile market. Even though it’s debatable whether acquiring even the biggest music rights firm would actually help a SoftBank compete in the mobile music space. Not least because it might put off other labels from participating in any music venture, and you can have as much Bieber as you want, but will your pop service work without Beyonce and Buble?

But either way, $8.5 billion was a generous offer, with most analysts valuing the music major a good $2 billion less than that, even after last year’s acquisition of the EMI record company. A fact the will likely make some Vivendi shareholders question the company’s board and their decision to knock back the offer, even if UMG is a key part of the French firm’s plan to move away from the telecoms market and focus on its entertainment assets.

Interestingly, the $8.5 billion figure is similar to that being bandied around when live music and entertainment firm AEG was up for sale earlier this year. Though, of course, that sale didn’t go ahead, possibly because current owner Anschutz Inc was too ambitious in its asking price.