Vivendi's music business valued at $22 billion by banks pitching for IPO

PARIS/LONDON (Reuters) - Investment banks seeking to persuade Vivendi VIV.PA to float Universal Music Group (UMG) says the recovering division is worth about 20 billion euros ($22 billion), top executives at the Paris-based media company said on Tuesday.

The Vivendi logo is pictured at the main entrance of the entertainment-to-telecoms conglomerate headquarters in Paris, March 10, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Bankers have told Vivendi that selling 10 to 15 percent of UMG would provide funds for other acquisitions and realize the division’s rising value, sources told Reuters.

But no investment bank has been mandated at this stage for such an IPO, the sources said. Vivendi declined to comment.

UMG, whose artists include Drake, U2, the Weeknd (sic) and Lady Gaga, has been benefiting from a rebound in business, thanks to streaming and paid subscriptions such as a multi-year deal it signed with Spotify, the world’s number one music streaming website.

Its sales grew by 4.4 percent last year, helped by a 60 percent boost from streaming revenues, offsetting the poorer performance of Vivendi’s second unit, pay-TV Canal Plus.

“Today, estimates given by banks proposing an initial public offering can go up to 20 billion euros,” Vivendi General Counsel Frederic Crepin told the company’s annual shareholder meeting.

Most analysts currently value UMG around 12 billion euros.

Vivendi received a first bid for the whole of UMG of 6.5 billion euros in 2013, Crepin said. In 2015, it then had a preliminary expression of interest of 13.5 billion euros, he added, without providing the names of any bidders.

The second offer was made by Liberty Media Corp. FWONA.O chairman John Malone, according to sources close to the matter.

Vivendi, led by billionaire Vincent Bollore, is keen on stimulating its share price, as analysts still await more details about how exactly its strategy to build an integrated European media powerhouse will pan out.

In three years, the tycoon, who now has sole control, has spent nearly 15 billion euros ($16 billion) on remunerating shareholders and acquisitions, including taking large stakes in Telecom Italia TLIT.IT and Italian broadcaster Mediaset MS.MI.

“What’s important for us is to boost the share price,” Bollore told investors on Tuesday.

($1 = 0.9148 euros)

Editing by Andrew Callus and Alexander Smith