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UMG Chairman/CEO Lucian Grainge Signs Five-Year Contract Extension

The agreement takes the executive from an all-cash compensation package to one that combines cash and equity, including a one-time transition equity award worth up to $100 million.

The board of directors at Universal Music Group (UMG) has extended the contract of chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge until May 1, 2028, the company announced Thursday (March 30).

The updated agreement transitions Grainge from an all-cash compensation package to one that combines cash and equity; the latter of these includes performance-based objectives that align with the interest of shareholders and correlate with the company’s long-term growth strategy. The majority of the compensation package’s value will be paid in UMG equity and performance-based stock options. As a result, Grainge’s annual salary will be reduced by more than two-thirds from his current salary, down to $5 million. He will be eligible for an annual bonus with a target of $10 million. The EBITA bonus from his previous contract has been eliminated, and he will only be entitled to the contingent bonus under his prior agreement on a pro rata basis until Friday (March 31).


The equity components of the compensation program include annual grants of $20 million, comprised of as much as 50% performance share units (PSUs), with annual PSU goals set by the board of directors; the remainder will be comprised of restricted share units (RSUs). Grainge will also receive a one-time transition equity award of $100 million, comprised of 50% RSUs and 50% performance stock options (PSOs). The PSOs will be paid out only if the company surpasses stock price hurdles — 1/3rd at 26.50 euros ($28.90), another 1/3rd at 30.00 euros ($32.71) and 1/3rd at 38.00 euros ($41.44) — within the term of the agreement.

UMG went public in September 2021 with a listing on the Euronext Amsterdam Stock Exchange.

“UMG is the world´s most successful music company and there are incredible opportunities ahead for a company with the right leadership and vision,” said UMG chairman of the board Sherry Lansing in a statement. “The UMG Board is resolutely committed to converting those opportunities and maximizing shareholder value for the long term. Only the right kind of chief executive can help achieve that goal and Lucian is just the one to do it. Through his clear vision and strong execution in building UMG into the industry leader, Lucian has also essentially created a new category of music company. This agreement is designed to drive both the sustainable success of UMG and long-term shareholder value.”

To align Grainge’s term as executive director and chairman/CEO with the term of the extended contract, the board will put forth a proposal to reappoint him as executive director for a term ending on May 1, 2028, at UMG’s 2023 general meeting on May 11; it will also seek approval for a supplement to UMG’s existing executive directors remuneration policy with respect to his new compensation.

Grainge got his start in the music publishing business in 1979 at age 18. He joined Universal Music in 1986 when he launched PolyGram Music Publishing in the U.K. and steadily climbed the ladder from there, rising to chairman/CEO of UMG’s international division in 2005 and chairman/CEO of UMG in 2011, succeeding Doug Morris. He placed atop this year’s Billboard‘s Power 100, marking his seventh appearance at No. 1 on the list; in 2020, he was named Billboard‘s executive of the decade.

In 2022, UMG’s overall revenues increased 21.6% to 10.34 billion euros ($10.96 billion), boosted by solid returns from recorded music subscriptions and streaming. It remains far and away the largest recorded music company by market share.