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Vivendi Universal Revenues Rise

Vivendi Universal said third-quarter revenues for Vivendi Universal, excluding its utilities unit Vivendi Environnement, grew by 1 percent to $7.4 billion, despite revenue declines in its publishing and music divisions.

The report, released Monday, comes as the media, entertainment and utilities conglomerate faces continuing pressure to improve its balance sheet and convince investors that its business is sound.

For the three months ending Sept. 30, Vivendi’s Canal Plus subscription television group showed some improvement, with revenue growing 4 percent to nearly $1.2 billion in the third quarter.

But Vivendi’s Universal Music Group saw revenues fall 9 percent to 1.3 billion euros $1.3 billion, the company said.

The declines were even steeper in its publishing business, which saw revenues plummet 14 percent to $1.2 billion.

In a news release, the company said revenues grew to $44.5 billion in the first nine months of 2002, up 9 percent over the same period last year.

Earnings and earnings-per-share information was not released by the company. The results exclude the effects of the Vivendi Environnement utility business, in which Vivendi has a 40.4 percent position. Vivendi last week expressed interest in selling half of that stake.

Since the beginning of July, Vivendi has sold assets for a total of $5.01 billion, including Italian digital television arm Telepiu, European publishing assets Vivendi Universal Publishing, encryption software editor Canal Plus Technologies, and Internet portal Vizzavi.

The sales are being forced by the massive debts created under former chairman Jean-Marie Messier, who spent billions trying to transform Vivendi into a media and entertainment behemoth.

Messier accumulated the biggest debt load in French corporate history. At the end of 2001, debt stood at $18.65 billion.

In morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, U.S. shares of Vivendi fell 54 cents to $12.98.

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