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No. 4: Vivendi Universal

Paris/New York

Revenue: 24.3 billion euros

Cash flow: 3.3 billion euros

A Franco-Hollywood fusion, this conglom was created last year by the combination of Paris-based Vivendi and Seagram, parent of Universal Studios, Universal Music and a mammoth liquor biz that was sold off postmerger.

Vivendi, which owns film and pay TV giant Canal Plus along with other entertainment, publishing and wireless assets, spun off its big water and waste management unit into a separately company and is focusing on media.

Biggest challenge has been getting U.S. investors to pay heed to what’s now one of the biggest showbiz congloms in the world. A strong second quarter created an upbeat buzz last month and chairman-CEO Jean-Marie Messier is moving to New York in September to help speed Viv U’s acceptance.

Company’s long-term strategy of hawking video and music content via cell phones seems pie in the sky to some Stateside but none can dispute the success of Universal Music, the world’s biggest music label, and the hit factory called Universal Pictures, which released blockbusters such as “The Mummy Returns” and “The Fast and Furious” this year.

Universal and Sony have teamed up to launch a service for digitally downloading music from the Internet, one of the hot-button issues of the day that has labels linking up and investing heavily.

Viv U’s latest big deal was the purchase this summer of venerable Boston publisher Houghton Mifflin.

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