French telecoms and media group Vivendi Universal reported a 7% rise in year-on-year sales for the three months to 31 December, up from EUR5.12 billion (USD6.19 billion) to EUR5.48 billion (USD6.67 billion). The results were boosted by a strong performance from Vivendi’s mobile unit SFR, which reported fourth-quarter sales of EUR2.21 billion, beating the consensus forecast of EUR2.1 billion. On the downside, Vivendi’s music and games division underperformed. Universal Music Group saw revenues dip 1.7% on a comparable basis, to EUR1.7 billion euros, and down 5.2% on a comparable basis at constant exchange rates. Meanwhile, the group’s games division posted sales of EUR245 million in Q4, down 7.2% on the same period of 2004 and down 11.1% at constant exchange rates. Elsewhere, Vivendi’s pay-TV division, Canal Plus, reported revenues of EUR892 million for the period under review, up 6.3% year-on-year and beating a Reuters consensus of EUR866 million.
Following a major restructuring exercise that saw Vivendi Universal selling off many of its assets to pay back debt, the group is now back on the acquisition trail, particularly in the telecoms sector. According to reports in the French newspaper La Tribune, it is currently considering raising its stake in French telecoms operator Neuf Cegetel from 28% to 34%, and also keen to acquire a 35% interest in Tunisian operator Tunisie Telecom which is being privatised. Separately, it is mulling plans to raise its 18% stake in NBC Universal – its joint venture with General Electric Company.