Bertelsmann AG, the Germany media company, has reported figures for the first nine months of 2008 including a tripling of its net profits to €387 million ($493 million).

The figure to the end of September was up 193% from €132 million ($168 million) for the period Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, 2007.

The privately-held company said that consolidated revenues were €11.4 billion ($14.5 billion) to the end of the third quarter, a decline of 0.7% on the same period for 2007.

Bertelsmann said the proceeds from its sale of half of Sony BMG were received in October and not included in these figures. The sale was valued at $900 million.

The company's earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) were €823 million ($1.05 billion) for the first nine months of the year, compared to an EBIT of €692 million ($880 million) for the same period in 2007.

"Bertelsmann is strategically well positioned and financially sound, which represents a competitive advantage in the current difficult market," said Bertelsmann's chief financial officer Thomas Rabe in a statement.

"Our businesses have a good risk diversification; we have a long-term orientation and a balanced maturity profile of our capital market liabilities. For the full year 2008, we are expecting slightly higher revenues than in the comparable period of the previous year for continuing activities."

He added that "in view of the subdued economic outlook," the company expects operating earnings to be some 5-10% percent lower on the previous year.

However, EBIT and net profit are set to "rise significantly given the elimination of certain special items and lower tax expense." The company's special items in 2007 included €245 million ($311 million) in charges for the settlement of lawsuits with EMI, Warner Music and various publishers in relation to Bertelsmann's financing of Napster when it was a peer-to-peer service.

The company's businesses include publisher Random House, broadcaster RTL and, since October, Berlin-based music company BMG Rights Management. The new company will begin operations in January, exploiting and marketing music rights from European acts across the continent.