Canal Plus hit by merger costs

PARIS — Vivendi’s second quarter net profit fell 49% to Euros 594 million ($811.2 million), on revenues up 7.4% to Euros 5.203 billion ($7.111 billion).

Bottom line was affected by one-off gains last year, including from the sale of Vivendi’s stake in chemical maker DuPont, the company announced Friday.

But the media and telco conglom said it was retaining its 2007 full-year outlook for adjusted net income to exceed Euros 2.7 billion ($3.689 billion), for which it is counting on continued growth at pay TV unit Canal Plus and in its games unit.

Canal Plus’ EBITDA fell 12% in the second quarter to Euros 138 million ($188.5 million), hit by the cost of the pay TV unit’s merger with rival TPS, but revenues were up 16.3% to Euros 1.087 billion ($1.485 billion).

At a press briefing, Canal Plus Group topper Bertrand Meheut dismissed as “rumors” recent speculation that the company was bidding to acquire Germany’s Premiere, but he said that both Premiere and Spain’s Sogecable could be of interest to the French company.

“If there are opportunities for pay television abroad, we are interested,” he said, adding that Vivendi was “ready to support (Canal Plus) if an acquisition made sense.”

Vivendi’s games division posted a 59.1% drop in adjusted operating profit to Euros 12 million ($16.3 million), due to one-time costs of a profit-sharing and talent retention plan at Blizzard Entertainment, the company that makes Vivendi’s hit online game World of Warcraft. Revenues were up 37.8% to Euros 209 million ($285 million). The game has put on a million subscribers since January this year to reach 9 million, Vivendi said in July.

Meanwhile, Universal Music posted a 7.8% increase in second quarter EBITDA, to Euros 163 million ($222.7 million), on revenues up 3.8% to Euros 1.068 billion ($1.459 billion), but over the whole of the first-half EBITDA fell Euros 75 million ($102.4 million) to Euros 220 million ($300.6 million).

Maroc Telecom posted a 45% hike in second quarter adjusted operating profit to Euros 282 million ($384.6 million), on revenues up 23% to Euros 615 million ($840.3 million). French telco SFR saw slower growth, with EBITDA a flat Euros 721 million ($985.2 million) on revenues up 3.4% to Euros 2.240 billion ($3.06 billion).

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