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Best-selling albums by Gwen Stefani and Jay-Z failed to add pizazz to Vivendi’s latest trading update on Wednesday.

The French media and telecommunications group said that its sales rose by 2.9 per cent to €20.04bn ($26bn) last year, while fourth-quarter sales rose 1.2 per cent to €5.545bn. Mid-afternoon, the shares were trading 1.9 per cent lower at €31.65.

Goldman Sachs said the fourth-quarter figure was marginally less than the €5.566bn it had expected, mainly because of the performance of SFR, the Vivendi-controlled French mobile telephone operator.

SFR’s like-for-like sales fell 2.1 per cent in the final three months of the year, reflecting a cut in regulated tariffs.

Goldman suggested that Vivendi’s share price had been boosted recently by the hope that it might buy out its minority partner in SFR, Vodafone. However, Vodafone ruled out a sale in an analyst presentation on Wednesday, it said.

Vivendi’s Universal Music division - the world’s biggest recorded music group - saw its sales fall 1.5 per cent in the fourth quarter as it was held back by adverse currency movements.

Turnover from computer games such as World of Warcraft continued to power ahead, however.

The timing of the publication of the Vivendi sales figures came as a surprise to the market. The French conglomerate had at one stage planned to release them on Wednesday morning but it then decided that it would wait until after the market had closed that afternoon.

However, it neglected to tell BALO, a state-run bulletin service, to switch from a morning to afternoon announcement and the sales figures were duly published on the BALO website on Wednesday morning as initially planned.

When it became aware of its mistake, Vivendi hurriedly published the sales data through other channels as well, abandoning its afternoon plan altogether.

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