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Encouraging improvements

First-half net loss improves as Vivendi trims assets

French media conglomerate Vivendi Universal reported a net loss of euro632 million (US$723 million) Wednesday for the first half of 2003, a sharp improvement from the same period last year amid a sell-off of assets to trim staggering debt.


Vivendi's operating profit dropped 27 percent in the first half of this year to euro1.68 billion ($1.92 billion), compared with euro2.29 billion ($2.62 billion) in the same period of 2002.

The drop in operating profit, which was better than analysts' expectations, is partly due to the slimming down of Vivendi's operations since the first half of 2002.


Current chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou said Wednesday he hopes the planned merger with NBC will be completed in the second half of 2004. Once that takes place, Vivendi's revenue in the media sector would be about euro9 billion ($10.3 billion) a year, down from the current euro15 billion ($17.2 billion), Fourtou said.

Disposals over the past year have helped reduce Vivendi's net debt to euro13.7 billion ($15.68 billion) at the end of June 2003, from about euro35 billion ($40 billion) a year earlier.

Vivendi expects its net debt to be about euro13 billion ($14.88 billion) at the end of 2003, excluding the expected merger of its U.S. media assets with NBC. Those assets include Universal Pictures, three cable channels, a television studio and several theme parks.

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