Tencent is set to take a 10 per cent stake in Universal Music, which represents artists from The Beatles to Taylor Swift, marking the Chinese technology group’s latest move to broaden its reach in the global music industry.
腾讯(Tencent)将买入环球音乐(Universal Music) 10%股份，后者旗下拥有甲壳虫乐队(The Beatles)和泰勒•斯威夫特(Taylor Swift)等一众艺人。此举是这家中国科技集团扩大其在全球音乐行业触角范围的最新动作。
French media conglomerate Vivendi, Universal’s owner, yesterday revealed it was in talks to sell the stake to Tencent in a deal that would value the world’s largest music group at €30bn. The Chinese company would have an option to double its stake within a year on the same terms.
The negotiations are the latest sign of a sustained recovery in the music sector, which has rebounded from a 15-year slump driven by online piracy and the collapse of the CD market. They follow April’s direct listing of Spotify, in which Tencent holds a substantial minority stake.
Vivendi, which has been exploring the sale of a Universal stake since last year, has shed billions of euros worth of assets in the telecoms and video games sector in the past decade. The company said it was also discussing “areas of strategic commercial co-operation” with Tencent, including growth opportunities from “the opening of new markets”.
Tencent is planning to buy the stake through its investment arm, not its US-listed music business. A heavy backer of music services worldwide — including India’s Gaana, pan-Asian service Joox and singing app Smule — the move to buy into a record label signals a change in strategy towards content rather than technology.
Mark Mulligan, managing director of Midia Research, pointed to the debate in the music community over whether the balance of power lay with record labels or streaming services. “Tencent are now betting on both horses,” he said.
Midia Research的董事总经理马克•穆里根(Mark Mulligan)指出，音乐界现在有一场辩论，其焦点问题是力量平衡掌握在唱片公司还是流媒体服务手里。“腾讯现在在同时赌两匹马。”他说。
Elsa Hu, a Hong-Kong based director at tech-focused investment bank GP Bullhound, said the Universal deal would be “another investment in the content and intellectual property end of the . . . entertainment industry”.
专注于科技行业的投行GP Bullhound驻香港董事Elsa Hu表示，腾讯收购环球音乐股份的这笔交易将是“在娱乐业的……内容和知识产权方面作出的又一笔投资”。
Universal already has an agreement with Tencent to use its streaming platforms and established Abbey Road China alongside its potential investor.
However, investment bank Jefferies sounded a note of caution, warning that “US political opposition to Chinese investment in a strategic asset could obstruct” the deal.
Lucian Grainge, the Universal chief executive who led the talks alongside Vincent Bolloré, Vivendi’s billionaire president, stressed that the deal would not disrupt the music company’s strategy, saying: “Obviously, we remain part of the Vivendi family.”
与维旺迪的亿万富翁掌门人万桑•博洛雷(Vincent Bolloré)一同主导这次谈判的环球音乐首席执行官卢西恩•格兰奇(Lucian Grainge)强调，这笔交易不会扰乱这家音乐公司的战略，他表示：“显然，我们仍然是维旺迪家族的一员。”
Tencent has the potential to act as a gatekeeper to the Chinese music market, which western music companies have found hard to crack because of cultural tastes and rampant piracy. Jerry Dellis, analyst with Jefferies, noted that Universal generated the same revenue in Portugal as it did in China.
Additional reporting, David Keohane in Paris