Vivendi reports revenue increase

Can sell its sake in NBC Uni beginning Nov. 15

PARIS -- French media powerhouse Vivendi remained mum on the fate of its 20% stake in NBC Universal on Thursday, but had no trouble boasting its 9.8% rise in revenue for the first nine months of the year at a press conference in Paris. Revenue for the first nine months of the year totaled €19.52 billion, up 9.8% from the year before and EBITA rose 10.3% to €4.24 billion. Vivendi didn't say whether the group would sell its 20% share in NBC Universal to pave the way for a rumored opening the doors to a GE-Comcast joint venture. Vivendi can choose to sell within the window of Nov. 15 -- Dec. 15.

Vivendi's third quarter revenue saw a 5.1% rise and the group said the figures are in line with their 2009 full-year forecast.

Vivendi's games unit Activision Blizzard once again stormed the market with better than expected revenue of €1.98 billion and EBITA of €406 million. With no strings attached, Activision's "Guitar Hero World Tour" was the No. 1 bestselling title in North America and Europe and "Call of Duty: World at War" the second most popular title in those territories.

Universal Music Group suffered despite a 21% growth in digital sales and saw a 5.2% drop in revenue compared to the first nine months of 2008. Vivendi owes the disappointing music sales to both a decreasing demand for product and a light release schedule. Universal Music's EBITA plummeted 34.1% compared to the same period last year due to the drop in sales.

Consumers may not have been shopping for music titles, but they were talking on their cell phones, with Gallic telecom SFR boasting a 9.6% jump in revenue Moroccan telecom subsidiary Maroc Telecom seeing its revenue rise 3.6%.

French pay TV group Canal Plus managed to weather the financial storm as the country's private networks saw both ratings and advertising revenue drop significantly this year. Canal Plus saw its revenue rise a slight but steady 1.1% to €3.4 billion. The group owes its growth to several factors including a shift from analog to digital, subscriber portfolio growth in Poland, increased ad revenue for cable network iTele and film unit StudioCanal's integration of Kinowelt in 2008. Canal Plus Group's EBITA climbed 21.4% compared to the same period in 2008 to €754 million. Vivendi is currently in a bidding war for Brazilian phone company GVT (Holding) SA with Spain's Telefonica SA.