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Vivendi sees limited effect from COVID-19, but wobbles could lie ahead

France-based media giant reports strong rise in Q1 revenue owing to good performance at Universal Music Group, but it warns that smaller businesses will be affected by the coronavirus.

Anne Morris

April 20, 2020

2 Min Read
Vivendi sees limited effect from COVID-19, but wobbles could lie ahead

Vivendi reported a 4.4% year-on-year increase in revenue to €3.87 billion (US$4.2 billion) for the first quarter of 2020, and it said the COVID-19 pandemic has so far had a limited impact on its business.

However, the France-based media group warned that it is impossible to predict at this stage the degree to which the pandemic will impact revenue this year. Some of the group's smaller businesses, such as Havas Group, Editis and Vivendi Village, already recorded lower revenue in March, and they are expected to be further affected in the second quarter of the year.

Vivendi was largely propped up by Universal Music Group in the first quarter, which increased revenue by almost 13% to €1.77 billion ($1.92 billion). However, Canal+ recorded an increase of only 1% to €1.37 billion ($1.48 billion), while revenue at advertising agency Havas fell by 3.3% on an organic basis to €524 million ($569 million). Revenue at publishing group Editis fell by 14.3% to €116 million ($126 million), and the digital, ticketing and live entertainment group Vivendi Village recorded a 3.4% decline to €23 million ($24.9 million).

Vivendi, which also owns a 24% stake in Telecom Italia (TIM), pointed out that it is reasonably well placed to weather the storm, with net debt at a relatively manageable level of €2.4 billion ($2.6 billion). The group has just boosted its coffers through the sale of a 10% stake in Universal to a consortium led by Chinese online giant Tencent, raising around €2.8 billion ($3.04 billion).

Vivendi indicated that its businesses are all monitoring the situation closely. The impact of COVID-19 is impossible to predict at this stage, but the group said it is confident in the resilience of its main businesses. As an indication of the extraordinary measures businesses are being forced to take at this time, Canal+ agreed to postpone the launch of the Disney+ video streaming service from March 24 to April 7 "due to the risk of network saturation".

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— Anne Morris, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Anne Morris

Contributing Editor, Light Reading

Anne Morris is a freelance journalist, editor and translator. She has been working in the telecommunications sector since 1996, when she joined the London-based team of Communications Week International as copy editor. Over the years she held the editor position at Total Telecom Online and Total Tele-com Magazine, eventually leaving to go freelance in 2010. Now living in France, she writes for a number of titles and also provides research work for analyst companies.

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