Vivendi Universal, the world’s number two media group formed in December’s merger between Vivendi and Seagram, unveiled healthy full-year results for 2000 and declared itself on course to meet ambitious growth targets.

The group posted a 60% jump in net profit for the year, reaching 2.3 billion euros ($2.1bn). This includes only 23 days of contributions from Seagram’s film and music divisions, since the merger was not completed until December 8. Pro forma results, incorporating a hypothetical full-year contribution from the Seagram units, saw a 68% jump in operating profits to 3.1bn euros and an increase in revenues of 19% to 52.5bn euros.

An ebullient Jean-Marie Messier, Vivendi Universal’s chairman and chief executive, commented that he was “very confident” that the group would hit its targets of a 10% growth in revenue and a 35% jump in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes and amortization) for 2001 and 2002. “At the time of the merger, it was said that Vivendi Universal's targets were too ambitious. Well, we've already done better than those quote-unquote overly ambitious targets,” he crowed.

Messier added that the integration of the group’s disparate media holdings was “going quickly and even more quickly than we thought.” The merger of pay-TV channel Canal Plus and French film company Studio Canal with Universal Studios and Seagram’s TV assets is expected to save 100m euros per year – considerably more than the 60m to 80m euros forecast in December – and increase revenue by 450m euros per annum.

News source: Wall Street Journal