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Vivendi dials up 28% gain in profits, eyes growth

Revs up 31.2% to $40 billion

PARIS — French utilities and telecommunications giant Vivendi has posted 1999 profits of $1.4 billion — a 28% increase over the previous year — while revenues rose 31.2% to $40 billion.

On Monday, chairman Jean-Marie Messier predicted the group, which owns 49% of Canal Plus and 25% of BSkyB, would see operating profits rise this year to about $3 billion from $2.3 billion in 1999, while operating profits at its media division should increase 30%.

Wireless ambitions

Messier’s professed strategy is to combine telephony, especially the mobile phone business, with content provision (via Canal Plus) and the Internet. His aim is to make Vivendi the European leader in new media. He recently established Vivendi.net, bringing together the Internet interests of Vivendi and Canal Plus.

Central to this strategy is the development of MAP, the multi-access portal joint venture with the world’s biggest mobile phone company, Vodafone Airtouch. Together, the companies already have access to 70 million European subscribers. The next step is to provide the technology for those subs to access the ‘Net via their mobile telephones, TV sets and PCs.

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