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BRIEFLY / COMPANY TOWN ANNEX

Vivendi Posts 40% Operating Profit Increase

March 10, 2001|Times Wire Services

Vivendi Universal said its operating profit rose 40% to $2.4 billion in 2000, close to analyst expectations, and promised to deliver on its goal to boost earnings as a result of its trans-Atlantic mega-merger. The multimedia and utility giant formed from French Vivendi, Canadian Seagram and Vivendi's pay-TV unit Canal Plus said revenue rose 19% to $48.8 billion, calculated as if the merger had been complete in both periods. The film and TV division turned in a $103-million loss. Universal Music Group had earnings of $1.1 billion, up 24% on a constant exchange rate basis. Revenue was lifted by strong performances in North America and Europe and major album sales including Irish group U2 and controversial rapper Eminem. The company said it is confident of reaching its target of 10% revenue growth in its media and communications division and a 35% rise in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization between 2000 and 2002.

Separately, Universal Studios said Blair Westlake will step down as chairman of Universal Television & Networks Group by early April. "After exploring a number of possible positions within the new organization, I have decided that the best decision for my family and me is to pursue new opportunities outside Universal," Westlake said.

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