Canal Plus contributes to Vivendi EBITA, net result hit by provisions

Canal Plus Group had 12.5 million subscribers globally by the end of 2009, up from 12 million in 2008. Individual and collective subscribers in France, its overseas territories and Africa numbered 10.8 million, up by 238,000 year-on-year.

In Poland, Canal Plus’s subscriber base added 160,000 subscribers over the period.

The group turned in revenues of €4.553bn, up 1.6% at constant currency rates and flat in real currency terms. EBITA did better, growing by 14.78% to reach €652m, with the full effect of synergies from the TPS merger  and cost reduction initiatives contributing to particularly strong EBITA growth in France.

The pay-TV operator had some success pushing digital services in France, with 490,000 transferring to digital in the course of the year, taking the digital total from 80% to 93% of its total base. Digital churn fell from 13% to 12.3%, and ARPU rose by about €1 to €44.70 due to higher fees and penetration of added-value services including Foot Plus on XBox, Canal Plus on the iPhone and The Cube set-top.

Parent group Vivendi posted revenues of €27.132bn, up 6.9%, with EBITA growing 8.8% to €5.39bn. Adjusted net earnings fell by 5.5% to €2.585bn. However, Vivendi’s actual net earnings attributable to shareholders fell by 68.1% to €830m, in part due to a provision in the fourth quarter related to the class action currently being pursued against the group in the US.

Chairman Jean-Bernard Lévy said he expected further EBITA growth in 2010 thanks to the sale of Vivendi’s stake in NBC Universal and its decision to buy fast-growing Brazilian telecom operator GVT. He said that acquisitions – notably games company Acitivision Blizzard and telco SFR – had been the principal growth engines for the company last year. SFR, now including the former Neuf Cegetel, had 4.444 million active broadband customers at the end of the year, up 14.6%.