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Revenue grew at all the company's main divisions except Universal Music Group where revenue fell 4% to $6.81 billion.
VU REVENUE UP 1% FOR
FOURTH QUARTER
U.S. Entertainment Arm Posts 27% Rise in Full-Year Results; Company Puts IPO on Hold

Vivendi Universal said its revenue rose 1% in the fourth quarter and 6.3% for all of 2002, driven mainly by growth in its telecommunications business.

Vivendi said fourth-quarter 2002 revenue rose to 16.4 billion euros ($17.7 billion), hurt by the dollar's decline against the euro. For the year, revenue rose to 61 billion euros ($65.96 billion) from 57.36 billion euros in 2001.

VU Chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou has been seeling many of the company’ assets to cut Vivendi's debt of 18.5 billion euros ($20 billion). Fourtou, who took over last year after the ouster of Jean-Marie Messier, has said he intends to sell 12 billion euros ($12.98 billion) worth of assets by the end of 2004.

Excluding businesses sold off last year, Vivendi's full-year revenue for 2002 rose 11% to 28.1 billion euros ($30.38 billion).

Revenue grew at all the company's main divisions, except Universal Music Group, where revenue fell 4% to 6.3 billion euros ($6.81 billion), the company said in a statement.

The company's U.S. entertainment arm, which includes Hollywood's Universal Studios and the Universal theme parks, posted a 27% rise in full-year results to 6.3 billion euros ($6.8 billion) due to the acquisition of USA Networks.

Meanwhile, according to the New York Post, VU has shelved plans for an initial public offering of its U.S. entertainment assets.

An IPO of Vivendi Universal Entertainment, led by its Chairman/Co-CEO Barry Diller, had been seen as the most likely scenario for the French media giant to shed the assets. Now, however, Fourtou and his top executives in Paris are considering two options to divest of the assets: sell the entire division to a group of private investors, or break apart the unit and sell it piecemeal.

The Post says Fourtou's decision to ditch an IPO was made for two reasons. He realized the capital markets are in such disarray they can only stomach a roughly 20%t float—much less than Vivendi would like to sell. And the company is in the midst of an ongoing Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into alleged accounting improprieties.

The company will likely make a decision within two months.

If VUE is broken up, several parties have emerged with an interest in part of the assets. A bidding group headed by billionaire oilman Marvin Davis and former Seagram CFO Brian Mulligan recently met with Vivendi officials in Paris. The group has bid between $15 billion and $20 billion for all of VUE.

The Davis-Mulligan bid is attractive to Fourtou because it includes the music division - no other parties have expressed interest in it, and Vivendi is eager to get rid of it - and the bid is structured so as not to trigger hefty tax payments Vivendi would have to pay to Diller and the Bronfman family, the Post said.

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