Vivendi sees boost from new releases

Steve Dinneen
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BLOCKBUSTER video game sales gave a power up to French conglomerate Vivendi, with a blistering Christmas period already guaranteed thanks to its record breaking Modern Warfare franchise.

Its Activision games unit saw a year-on-year jump in profits for the first nine months of 38.6 per cent, with revenues up 4.8 per cent.

The firm said its profits for the first three quarters rose 13.8 per cent to €2.5bn (£2.13bn).

However, it revised down its targets for the year ahead in anticipation of a hike in corporation tax in its native France as part of a response to the Eurozone crisis. Analysts said the tax hit was not as big as some had feared and that its French telecoms firm SFR and Universal Music – home to the Black Eyed Peas – performed ahead of expectations.

Vivendi also said it has offloaded a three per cent stake in Activision – seen by some as the jewel in its crown – for around $427m (£364.5m).

The decision to lower its stake from 63 per cent has led analysts to question whether Vivendi has been put under pressure to get its house in order to maintain its credit rating in light of its agreement to buy EMI’s recorded music arm for €1.4bn.

The firm, however, said the decision to sell the shares was made before the proposed EMI deal, which is awaiting regulatory clearance.

Vivendi’s debt stood at €13.3bn after a spending spree taking it from €8.07bn last year.

Vivendi closed up 5.6 per cent, rallying after a year in which it underperformed the entertainment and telecoms industries with a 23 per cent drop.