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Messier eyes red

Vivendi U head wants Canal+ to stanch losses

PARIS — Pressure is mounting on Canal Plus to stem its red ink under the newly merged Vivendi Universal. The pay TV and film giant isn’t expected to turn a profit until 2003, but Vivendi CEO Jean Marie Messier wants to see rapid improvement this year.

A Vivendi Universal spokesman Feb 26. dismissed the idea that the conglom has given Canal Plus an ultimatum. But according to French daily Le Monde, execs say Canal has six months to set itself on a course to future earnings.

Canal is expected to report losses of $140 million for 2000 — a far cry from the breakeven that topper Pierre Lescure predicted in 1999.

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