For the moment at least, Vivendi ( V) Chairman and CEO Jean-Rene Fourtou is showing just how powerful positive thinking can be.

In a letter addressed to shareholders and employees of the cash-strapped French media giant, Fourtou said that while the company's situation is "certainly tense," he has "identified the way out of this crisis and the way to be back on track."

His message was getting through to the market Monday, as shares of Vivendi rose nearly 17% to $11.40, good enough to make the stock the second-biggest percentage gainer on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company has announced that it plans to work down 10 billion euros ($9.8 billion) of debt through asset sales in the next two years, with half of that to be done in the next nine months.

In what analysts believe will be a relatively minor development, Vivendi said it is discussing the sale of its stake in a mobile Internet firm called Vizzavi to its partner in the joint venture, the U.K.'s Vodafone ( VOD). Speculation is that Vivendi would sell its stake in Vizzavi, which allows users of mobile phones, PCs and PDAs to download files from the Internet, for about $148 million.

"It won't be significant," said Mark Harrington, a media analyst for J.P. Morgan, of the possible sale of Vizzavi. J.P. Morgan has had an investment banking relationship with Vivendi and owns a stake in the company's securities. "I value Vizzavi at zero. It's been a money loser, and there are no immediate prospects of profitability or a recovery."

Of course, even if the sale appears inconsequential for a company with more than $30 billion of debt, it certainly isn't going to hurt. Vivendi is "losing money" on Vizzavi, said David Joyce, a senior equity analyst with Guzman & Co. "So the deal would get that drain off their income statement, and it's a step in the right direction to start shoring up their finances." Guzman doesn't have an investment banking relationship with Vivendi.

Both Harrington and Joyce said they're expecting sales of larger assets, as Fourtou has promised, including the sale of publisher Houghton Mifflin. Joyce said that sale could fetch around $2 billion. In Fourtou's letter, he wrote that the immediate disposal of Houghton Mifflin "is a vital element of our plan."

Vivendi's stock has been hammered in recent months by cash worries, debt downgrades, massive losses and a management shake-up that led to the ouster of Fourtou's predecessor Jean-Marie Messier in July. The 52-week high is $57.90.