Vivendi’s books, music records propel first-quarter sales

Vivendi’s first-quarter revenue grew 5% from a year earlier, the French media giant said on Thursday, driven by the prolonged strong performance of its music unit Universal and a sales jump at its publishing division.

The Paris-based group, controlled by billionaire Vincent Bollore, is seeking to cash in on the music industry’s revival by listing Universal, home to singers such as Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, by the end of the year.

The division has generated strong sales growth in recent quarters on rising streaming revenues, which represents more than half of the worldwide industry’s total revenue overall.

Group revenue rose to 3.90 billion euros ($4.69 billion), Vivendi said in a statement. It was propelled by a 9.4% increase in sales of Universal Music Group, led by a 20% growth in subscription and streaming revenues.

Olivia Rodrigo’s song “Driver’s license” and Justin Bieber’s “Peaches” were among the most-listened tracks on Spotify, the biggest music streaming platform in the first quarter, Vivendi said.

Revenue also benefited from a 40% jump in sales from publishing division Editis, thanks to several best-selling books, including one accusing a top French political commentator of abusing his stepson.

The book sparked outrage across the country and prompted a review of legislation on incest and sexual abuse.

Vivendi’s quarterly sales were, however, slightly below a 3.94 billion-euro average consensus provided by Visible Alpha and cited by Jefferies in a note.

Vivendi, which has become the No. 1 shareholder of French media group Lagardere, did not update markets about its intentions with the group and speculation that it could be interested in buying its publishing division Hachette.

The group is also a contender for the acquisition of Bertelsmann’s controlling stake in French broadcasting group M6, two sources have told Reuters.