Vivendi income hits record $3.8 billion

Vidgames boost numbers, music sales drop

PARIS — Media conglom Vivendi’s adjusted net income climbed 9.4% to a record €2.9 billion ($3.8 billion) in 2011 while its revenues remained stable at $38.3 billion.

The major drivers were Vivendi’s Activision Blizzard games division and Brazilian phone and Internet business GVT. Revs stayed steady at pay TV group Canal Plus but fell at its Universal Music Group.

“(The group) generated the highest adjusted net income in Vivendi’s history (…) despite a very significant increase in tax charges,” said Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy.

However, Levy said he was anticipating a downturn in 2012 and 2013, mainly due to France’s competitive telecom market, where SFR has been challenged since the recent launch of a fourth mobile operator, Free. Levy forecasts 2012’s profits will fall to $3.3 billion.

Activision Blizzard, which has just announced its plan to shed 600 staffers, saw its 2011 revenues rise 3.1% to $4.5 million, bolstered by an increase in revs from digital nets as well as the success of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” — last year’s worldwide best-seller — “Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure” and “World of Warcraft.”

Upcoming game releases include “Diablo III,” plus a new entry in the “Call of Duty” franchise and “Skylanders: Giants.”

Universal Music Group’s overall revenues fell 5.7% to $5.5 billion, while digital music sales were up 9.6%, repping 33.6% of recorded music revenues. Best-selling releases in 2011 included titles from Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Amy Winehouse and Justin Bieber.

Revenues at pay TV group Canal Plus, which includes services in Gaul, French overseas territories and Africa, climbed 3.1% to $6.4 billion, boosted by an increase in subscriptions, revenue per subscriber and advertising revs. Canal Plus Group has also benefited from its distribution/international sales arm Studiocanal, and the consolidation of its Polish pay TV operation, Cyfra Plus.

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