Vivendi SE shareholder Artisan Partners is opposing the company's plan to sell parts of its prized asset, Universal Music Group, including a proposed deal with a Blank Check firm backed by billionaire Bill Ackman.
The move adds pressure on Vincent Bollore's international media group before the shareholders are scheduled to meet on June 22 to vote on a plan to spin off 60% of the world's largest music company.
'Selling some UMG pieces to other investors in exchange for cash is a suboptimal allocation of capital, said Artisan Portfolio Manager David Samra in a Bloomberg statement. ''We prefer that UMG distribute its entire ownership of Vivendi to shareholders in a tax efficient manner.
Artisan also called the plan to distribute UMG shares to Vivendi stockholders tax unproductive, echoing those objections by an activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners, which has asked the financial market regulator in France to investigate the spinoff plan.
"Creating a tax burden on the shareholder of Vivendi by the demerger process is unattractive." We think management should find a tax friendly solution, added Samra.
Peshing Square Tontine Holdings Ltd. announced its talks to sell 10 percent of UMG to Vivendi on June 4. The transaction would value the home of Taylor Swift, Drake and Billie Eilish at 35 billion euros including debt, above the 30 billion-euro valuation assigned to the business in 2019 when China acquired Tencent Holdings Ltd.
The proposed deal confused some analysts and investors when it was announced, sending the blank company to its worst stock decline since September. Investor Service Bluebell has recommended that shareholders support the spinoff, but said Glass Lewis' call for a higher dividend is'reasonable.'
Representatives for Pershing and Vivendi refused to comment on Artisan's statement.
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