"There are no specific plans to sell our share in Sony BMG."

That was the response given by Bertelsmann CFO Thomas Rabe who, together with his colleague Hartmuth Ostrowski, the German media giant's CEO, spoke with Billboard.biz today in Berlin during the presentation of the group's 2007 financial results.

On the same query over the future for the Sony BMG alliance, Ostrowski chimed in with a handful of scenarios. "We might take over 100%, or sell our 50% to Sony so that they have 100% or we might continue the joint venture," he said. "All three outcomes are possible."

Bertelsmann and Sony's five-year retention period for the joint venture is due to expire in the summer of next year. "However, that doesn't mean that we then have to really do anything. Instead, it has to be decided by a partner. In the meantime, we will continue to develop our business jointly," says Rabe.

"We have good relations with our partner Sony and consensus on the strategy, and we see in our business a significant option value, particularly in the development of new digital business models," Rabe added.

Bertelsmann's BMG division saw a 46.2% drop in operating earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to €93 million ($146 million), and the division registered a 27.8% decline in revenue to €1.5 billion ($2.3 billion). The shortfall, Bertelsmann claims, is primarily as a result of the sale of the BMG Music Publishing unit.

The market for physical media showed a 17% decline, which was "only partially offset" by 40% growth in digital formats, the company admits. Digital sales accounted for 17% of total revenues during the period.

Rabe, however, highlighted Sony BMG's slight like-for-like earnings rise. "We achieved this in very difficult market conditions," he says.

During the year, Bertelsmann recorded operating EBIT of €1.811 billion ($2.8 billion), against a record figure of €1.867 billion ($2.9 billion) in the previous year. Adjusted for portfolio measures and exchange rate movements, operating EBIT increased by 3.7%, the company claims.

The disposal of the group's music publishing operations and the weakness of the U.S. dollar, contributed to a 2.8% decline in consolidated revenues to €18.8 billion ($29 billion), while operating return on sales was 9.7%.