Ackman’s SPAC to Buy 10% of Vivendi’s Universal Music for $4 Billion

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A blank-check firm backed by billionaire Bill Ackman agreed to acquire 10% of Universal Music Group for about $4 billion from French media company Vivendi SE.

Ackman’s special purpose acquisition company, called Pershing Square Tontine Holdings Ltd., said the transaction would value the home of Taylor Swift, Drake and Billie Eilish at 35 billion euros ($42 billion) including debt. The companies reached an agreement despite drawing pushback from Vivendi’s shareholders and disappointment from investors of Pershing Square Tontine.

SPACs typically pursue mergers with closely held companies, but after this deal, Pershing Square Tontine will remain listed with about $1.5 billion in cash and access to an additional $1.4 billion with the Pershing Square Funds. It will continue to search for a new business combination, according to its statement on Sunday.

Pershing Square Tontine said it intends to distribute the Universal Music shares to its investors after the music business’s planned public listing in Amsterdam later this year. Investors will also get the right to acquire a stake in a new vehicle known as a special purpose acquisition rights company, or SPARC.

As the music industry rebounds from a decadelong slump, Vivendi is cashing in on a boom in subscription music streaming that has inflated the value of its back catalog and a roster of stars including Swift, Drake, U2 and Post Malone. The deal would leave Universal Music with an investment base across the U.S., Europe and Asia. In 2019, a consortium led by China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. also agreed to buy a stake in Universal Music.

“After the 20% equity stake acquired by the Consortium led by the Tencent group, the arrival of major American investors provides further evidence of UMG’s global success and attractiveness,” Vivendi said in a separate statement Sunday.

The transaction is set to close in the coming weeks, and at the latest by Sept. 15, Vivendi said.

Perella Weinberg Partners advised the board of directors of Pershing Square Tontine.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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