French media and telecoms conglomerate Vivendi Universal today reported a net loss of EUR1.14 billion for 2003, down from EUR23.3 billion in 2002, thanks to profitable performances from its telecoms, pay-TV and entertainment businesses. Although the results slightly disappointed the analyst community – which had expected net losses to come in at around EUR915 million – the shortfall was compensated for by better-than-expected operating profits of EUR3.3 billion. Chief executive Jean-Rene Fourtou told reporters that he expected the Paris based company to return to profit over the next two years. ‘In 2005 Vivendi Universal will be a dynamic media and telecommunications group delivering a strong increase in profit with high available cash flow and able to pursue internal growth as well as to invest in select external opportunities’. At the end of 2003 Vivendi’s total debt burden stood at EUR11.6 billion, a figure it is hoping to lower to EUR5 billion by the end of the current year.