for continuing operations
Profit from operating activities (EBIT) from continuing operations increased by €448 million or 26.6% to total €2,131 million. The prior-year figure included the non-recurring income from the sale of Vfw AG (€59 million); the figure for the current reporting period includes the proceeds from the state aid proceedings (€572 million) and the restructuring costs for the US express business (€86 million). Adjusted for these items, EBIT rose by €21 million or 1.3% in the first nine months; however, it declined by €40 million or 8.5% in the third quarter.
At €237 million, net finance costs improved by €474 million (previous year: €711 million). This was due in particular to the interest component of the repayment we received from the state aid proceedings.
Profit before income taxes for the continuing operations almost doubled, improving by 94.9% from €972 million in the previous year to €1,894 million. In line with this, income tax also increased from €143 million to €329 million. The Group tax rate including taxes on discontinued operations amounted to 18.5% (previous year: 14.0%); the prior-year figure was influenced by one-time factors relating to the entry into force of the business tax reform in Germany. The result from continuing operations improved by 88.8% to €1,565 million (previous year: €829 million).