Canal+ subs up but profit slides

Additions from Africa and Vietnam gave a boost to Canal+ Group’s overall subscriber base in the year to March, but group earnings fell sharply.

The pay TV operator reported annual growth of 285,000 subscriptions in the 12 months to March 31, 2013, which it attributed in large part to good performances from CanalPlus Overseas territories, particularly Africa and Vietnam.

First quarter group revenue amounted to €1.3 billion (US$1.7 billion), up 4.4% year-on-year, largely due to the addition of new free-to-air channels D8 and D17 in France and the merger between Cyfra Plus and n in Poland.

However, earnings before interest, taxation and amortisation fell by 22.4% to €190 million, excluding €7 million in transition costs related to the integration of new businesses. The fall was attributed to the negative impact of changes in the broadcasting schedule for premium content, including Ligue 1 football rights.

Canal+ said it had strengthened its sports offering in the first quarter with the renewal of exclusive English Premier League rights and the gaining of exclusive Formula 1 rights, and boosted its drama offering via a wide-ranging deal with HBO.

Speaking on a conference call after the results, Vivendi chief financial officer Philippe Capron said the group had no intention of selling its 80% stake to Lagardère. The latter’s chief executive, Arnaud Lagardère, who is engaged in a dispute with Vivendi over its pay TV operator’s finances, recently said he was ready to acquire the operator if Vivendi lacked confidence in its future prospects.

Vivendi’s overall revenues were flat year-on-year at €7.1 billion, with EBITA falling 17.2% to €1.3 billion, dragged down by telecoms unit SFR, which has been hit by competition in the mobile sector.

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