Vivendi reports loss, plans to sell business units

Vivendi Universal SA reported a loss for the first half of 2002 on Wednesday, and announced plans to sell off parts of the business to reduce debt levels by about €10 billion (US$9.8 billion).

Giving unaudited, French GAAP (generally accepted accountancy principles) figures, Vivendi reported a net loss of €12.3 billion for the first half of the year, it said in a statement. The same period last year saw net income of €22 million, the company said.

U.S. GAAP figures will be released in September, it said.

Net income excluding goodwill amortization and non-recurring items was a loss of €66 million, or €0.06 per share. That compared with income of €295 million, and €0.27 per share for the same period last year, the company said.

The company's debt was about €35 billion, €16 billion of which related to Vivendi Environment, an environmental services business of which Vivendi owns 41 percent, the statement said.

The company plans to improve its liquidity by reducing debt by €10 billion in the next two years, €5 billion of that within the next five months, it said. This will be achieved through restructuring the Canal Plus group and the sale of non-core assets including educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Co.

Shares in the company fell over 25 percent on Wednesday, from €15.55 to €11.89 on the Paris bourse.

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