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Canal+ Group & Studiocanal Help Drive Positive 2023 Vivendi Results Amid Questions Over Split Project

A hike in subscribers for French pay-TV giant Canal+ Group as well as a successful year at the box office in France for Studiocanal helped drive positive 2023 results for parent company Vivendi, which were released Thursday evening after the close of the local stock exchange.

The media and communications giant posted a net profit of $443M (€405M) after a loss of $1.07B (1.01B Euros) for 2022, linked to the deconsolidation of its Telecom Italia stake.

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Full-year revenue rose 9.5% to $11.4B (€10.5B), against $10.1B (€9.6B) in 2022. Earnings before interest, taxes, and amortisation (EBITA) rose by 7.5% year-on-year to $1.02B (€934M), against $915M (€868M) in 2022.

Despite the positive results, the Vivendi share price was trading lower in Paris on Friday morning, with analysts citing the lack of an update on plans to split the group into separate entities, first announced last December, as a factor weighing on the title.

Vivendi Chairman Yannick Bolloré gave little away about these plans in the results report, saying simply that the split project was “continuing”.

“If it goes ahead, this project would create value for all the Group’s stakeholders and would enable the creation of independent pure players with the necessary human resources and financial agility, capable of driving their own growth trajectory in an international context marked by numerous investment opportunities,” he added.

Vivendi said the positive results had been driven by the performances of the Canal+ Group and its subsidiary Studiocanal as well as that of communications group Havas and the integration of publishing and retail giant Lagardère, its acquisition of which finally got the greenlight in 2023.

“Canal+ Group successfully pursued its international expansion, particularly in Asia, the Nordic countries and Africa. It added nearly 900,000 new subscribers over the year, both in France and abroad,” said Vivendi CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine.

“At the same time, Canal+ continued to expand its content offering and entered into major partnerships, while Studiocanal enjoyed a record year in cinema.”

A breakdown of the Canal+ Group’s performance showed that its subscriber portfolio had risen to 26.4 million subscribers by the end of 2023, compared to 25.5 million at the end of 2022.

Revenues from television operations in mainland France increased by 3.3%, driven by growth in the subscriber base and Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), with an additional 290,000 subscribers joining to give 9.8 million subscribers in total.

International operations saw a 1.2% increase in revenue compared to 2022, with an additional 575,000 subscribers enrolling for the Canal+ offering to give a total of of 16.6 million subscribers outside of France by the year of 2023.

Canal+ Group subsidiary Studiocanal enjoyed a record year at the French box office thanks to the performance of Alibi.com 2, which generated 4M admissions, drama All Your Faces (1.2M entries) and Cannes-selected hit The Animal Kingdom (1.1M entries).

Other key developments for the pay-TV giant cited in the results report included the launch of a new streaming platform in the Netherlands as well as the renewal of its exclusive deal with Warner Bros. Discovery, under which it is able to broadcast hits such as Barbie to subscribers six months after their box office release in France.

The group also noted the completion of the Canal+ Group’s acquisition of he OCS pay-TV package and Orange Studio on January 31 of this year, following approval from the French Competition Authority.

In a sign of Canal+ Group’s burgeoning international ambitions, the report also gave an update on its holdings in international pay-TV operators Viaplay, Viu and the MultiChoice Group.

It noted that the company currently held a 29.33% stake in Nordic platform Viaplay, while it had increased its position in Asian streamer Viu to 30% on February 26 as a part of its strategy to increase its footprint in Asia.

The report also gave a recap of the Canal+ Group’s move to become the majority owner of the South African-based, pan-African platform MultiChoice Group, noting its new March 5 offer to pay R125 ($6.7) per share, in a deal it said valued the MultiChoice Group at $2.8B (€2.6B) (treasury shares excluded).

Vivendi will hold its General Shareholders’ Meeting on April 29.

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