Vivendi Universal has significantly scaled back its losses, according to new figures for the first quarter.

The media mammoth – which made France’s highest ever annual loss in 2002 [WAMN: 10-Mar-03] – posted a net deficit of €319 million (£380m; £223m), well down on the €815m shortfall recorded in Q1 2002. Revenues stood at €6.2 billion, down 4% year-on-year.

Operating income jumped 39% to €844m on a pro forma basis (excluding acquisitions and divestments) - a rise the group attributed to strong performances by its Cegetel and Maroc Telecom units as well as the recovery scheme at TV division Canal Plus.

Vivendi’s net debt stood at €15.3bn at the end of the quarter, and has since been reduced to around €14bn, while cash-flow came in “significantly above expectations” at €928m.

At Vivendi Universal Entertainment – the collection of US assets Vivendi is in the process of selling – revenues tumbled 22% to €1.45bn and operating income slid 23% to €213m on a pro forma basis (though excluding currency fluctuations these were falls of 5% and 6% respectively).

Vivendi revealed it is mulling an initial public offering of 25% to 30% of VUE as stocks recover – an announcement regarded as a warning to bidders that the group has alternative plans if their offers are not high enough.

Data sourced from: Vivendi Universal; additional content by WARC staff