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Viv U rings in rev gains

Telecom activities generated the bulk of increase

PARIS — Vivendi Universal on Thursday posted first-half revenues of E9.08 billion ($11 billion), up 7%.

Second quarter revs increased 6% to $5.6 billion.

As usual, the Gallic group’s telecom activities generated the bulk of its growth, with French mobile operator SFR notching up sales of $2.64 billion in the second quarter, a rise of 23%.

On the entertainment front, new albums by 50 Cent, Mariah Carey, the Game and Black Eyed Peas boosted business at Universal Music Group.

Second quarter revenue for UMG stood at $151.6 million, down 3% on a published basis but up 5% pro forma and stripping out currency fluctuations.

Viv U noted strong record sales in the U.S. — where UMG increased its market share by 5 points to 32% in the first half of the year — and growth in Germany, the U.K., Australia and Latin America.

Growing online and mobile telephone sales repped 5.5% of UMG’s revs, the company said.

The Gallic media group’s games division saw its revenues leap a whopping 76% to $152 million on sales of its new game “World of Warcraft.”

Over at Canal Plus, the company signed up 250,000 new subscribers in the first half — its most successful first semester recruitment since 1991 — but second quarter revenues slipped 1% to $990 million.

Company did not give actual figures for Canal Plus’ various units but said that French pay TV revs rose 4%, including a 2% increase for the group’s flagship French channel, which saw upticks in audience and ad coin in the first half.

Revenues at Canal Sat, as the company recently renamed its digital platform, also rose, Viv U said.

However, StudioCanal, Canal Plus’ film production and distribution arm, saw its second quarter revenues decline compared with the same period last year.

Canal Plus’ film activities, however, “decreased further,” the company said without disclosing more details. Canal Plus’ major theatrical releases during the first half of 2005 included Clint Eastwood’s “Million Dollar Baby”; Cederic Klapisch’s “Russian Dolls,” which is still in theaters here; “The Interpreter,” starring Nicole Kidman; and Ridley Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven.”

(Liza Klaussmann contributed to this report.)

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