Universal Music Earnings Dip In First Nine Months

Universal Music Earnings Dip In First Nine Months

Whatever the politics within Vivendi that led to the departure of CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy, the company's senior management team still stands behind Universal Music Group and its planned acquisition of EMI, according to an e-mail UMG chairman and CEO Lucien Grainge sent to UMG employees on Friday. News of the e-mail appears to have been first reported by Bloomberg News.

According to Grainge's e-mail, Vivendi chairman of the supervisory board Jean-René Fourtou, is an enthusiastic music fan, who is proud of UMG's creative workforce, its artists and the company's "audience appeal on the multiple platforms in the digital age."

Grainge said Fourtou is "fully supportive and inspired by our planned acquisition of EMI recorded music." Moreover, "Fourtou is committed to Universal's strategic ambitions, which include our evolving services to artists and determination to help digital music grow further for our business partners and consumers."

Grainge told his staffers that he updated Fourtou on the "innovative plans we have for UMG and EMI," which he wrote will "benefit every player that is currently operating within the industry as well as those new entrants and entrepreneurs who will shape the future in our fast-growing digital world."

But he reminded staffers that while regulatory approval is pending, "we remain competitors with EMI. We are still separate companies and must continue to operate independently."

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Last week, long-time Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy was pushed out as Fourtou and others on the board wanted to follow investor calls for divestitures by the company, which also owns French pay TV provider Canal+ and telecom assets in France, Morocco and Brazil, or even a possible break-up.

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Vivendi, the report said, is also looking to sell its 61 percent stake in video game maker Activision Blizzard. Should no buyer be found for the Activision stake, which is worth around $8.1 billion, Vivendi plans to sell some of its shares in the market.

An Activision spokeswoman had no comment, it said.

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Critics have said that Vivendi's stock is trading at a discount of up to 40 percent due to its conglomerate structure. The stock recently hit a nine-year low, but it rose nearly 9 percent since Lévy's departure.