Vivendi Universal unveiled a major asset disposal programme Wednesday as the ailing media giant posted losses of €12.3bn ($12.1bn; £7.9bn) for the first half of 2002.

The group’s board has given the green light to the sale of units worth upwards of €10 billion, reversing the acquisition spree spearheaded by former shopaholic boss Jean-Marie Messier. Around half of these assets – which include US educational publisher Houghton Mifflin – will be offloaded in the next nine months.

The news came hours before the release of first-half earnings, which provided scant relief for the cash-strapped company.

As expected, Vivendi was pulled deep into the red by exceptional charges, including €11bn of goodwill impairment and €3.4bn in financial provisions. The group also reported a deficit excluding such one-off costs, posting a net loss of €66 million.

There were some crumbs of comfort: consolidated revenues increased 8% to €30.6bn, while operating income rose by the same margin to €2.4bn.

Vivendi also announced it has hired Jean-Bernard Levy as chief operating officer. He will replace Messier ally Eric Licoys.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff