Business

Meet Universal Music Group's New Board of Directors

Lucian Grainge
Chelsea Lauren/Variety

Sir Lucian Grainge is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 23, 2020 in Los Angeles.

The music company’s new executive board includes CEO Lucian Grainge, two representatives from Tencent, the producer behind ‘Mamma Mia!’ and a former cheese brand executive.

When Universal Music Group (UMG) makes its public listing Tuesday on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange, it will be guided by a global, 10-member board of directors that is 40% female and includes executives across a range of industries, from the brains behind the Mamma Mia! musical to the manager of the international Michelin Guide.

The board will be overseen by executive directors UMG chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge and deputy CEO corporate Vincent Vallejo, according to the company’s prospectus released Sept. 14. Grainge joined UMG in 1986 and has been CEO since 2010. Vallejo, who is based in the company’s Netherlands corporate headquarters, joined the company in April and has been with UMG’s soon-to-be-former-parent-company Vivendi since 1998.

Every public company must have a board of directors, a governing body whose members act in the best interest of the shareholders. Their duties include things like setting company goals, establishing stock option policies, leading acquisitions and mergers and deciding on executives' salaries.

The rest of the oversight group at UMG comprises eight non-executive directors, meaning they are not UMG executives, including a chairman of the board and vice chairman of the board. The four titled "independent non-executive director" have no connection to UMG, but the four titled simply "non-executive director" have another connection to UMG, such as representing a major shareholder.

The chairman of the board and independent non-executive director, who will call and direct meetings, is Judy Craymer, an award-winning producer who originated the idea for the Mamma Mia! musical (and later, film) and co-founded production company Littlestar Services Ltd. alongside ABBA members Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus and producer Richard East. The vice chairman of the board, and an independent non-executive director, is Antoine Fievet, who has spent 20 years as CEO of branded cheese and snack company the Bel Group – purveyor of brands Babybel and Boursin – where he has additionally served as chairman since 2009.

The other independent non-executive directors are Anna Jones, the co-founder and CEO of global women’s club AllBright; and Margaret Frerejean-Taittinger, the international development manager for the Michelin Guide restaurant ratings system.

The non-executive directors include Cathia Lawson-Hall, the head of coverage and investment banking for Africa at global financial services leader Société Générale; and Luc Van Os; the former CEO of Hearst Netherlands who now co-owns Misset Uitgeverij, a Netherlands-based B2B publisher of multimedia brands for the agricultural sector.

James Mitchell and Manning Doherty are both non-executive directors with ties to China’s Tencent Holdings Limited, the leader of a consortium that now owns 20% of UMG – fittingly giving Tencent 20% of the board seats.

Mitchell is Tencent Holdings’ senior executive vp and chief strategy officer and a director at Tencent Music Entertainment Group. Doherty is senior vp of GIC Pte Ltd., Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund – which is a part of the Tencent-led consortium – where he focuses on public and private debt and equity investments globally.

Notably, half of the eight non-executive directors are women, including the chairman of the board. Looking at racial diversity, Lawson-Hall is the only Black board member while Mitchell and Doherty are both of Asian descent. Executive director Vallejo, the company's deputy CEO corporate, is half-Spanish.

The prospectus notes that until recently, Dutch law stated that certain large Dutch companies, including UMG, must have at least 30% men and 30% women comprise their boards of directors. This legislation expired at the end of 2019, but in February, a bill was submitted to the Senate and Dutch House of Representatives requiring that board appointments not only maintain those percentages, but that new appointments lead to a more balanced gender ratio, or else they’ll be voided. In the U.S., only 22.5% of board seats in the Fortune 500 are held by women, and 4.6% are held by women of color, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit supporting professional women.

All appointments are effective on Sept. 20 and will serve until UMG’s annual general meeting in 2024.