Gütersloh-headquartered global media giant Bertelsmann set a cracking pace for its rivals to follow, posting 2001 net profits of €931 million ($813.84m; £571.75m) for a fiscal ‘year’ of just six months. The seeming anomaly is due to the group’s switch from German to international accounting standards, or a fiscal year to a calendar year – making year-on-year comparisons impossible.

In the reporting period, EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortization) reached €1.7 billion, with revenues at €9.7bn,. Net financial debt was €422m and investments totaled €1.1bn.

The result includes €2.2 billion in exceptional gains arising from the sale of shares in AOL Time Warner and its entire stake in AOL Europe. Concedes Bertelsmann: “The AOL proceeds allowed [us] to more than compensate for weak consumption and a very depressed advertising economy.”

Privately owned Bertelsmann, whose multifarious interests include book and magazine publishing, broadcasting and music, is limbering-up for an IPO as early as 2005, in advance of which ceo Thomas Middelhoff has imposed a 10% return-on-sales goal for all divisions.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff