Parmalat's first half profits rose steeply as settlements over the company's 2003 bankruptcy filled the Italian dairy group's coffers.

Earnings for the first half totalled EUR447.1m (US$660.4m), up from EUR198.2m in the comparable period of last year. 

At the end of 2003 an accounting scandal ended in the company's bankruptcy. Amid efforts to turn the business around Parmalat, under new management, launched a number of lawsuits against international banks. While the banks have denied any wrong-doing, Parmalat has so far recouped more than EUR1bn in settlements.

While banking settlements augmented the groups profits, Parmalat said net revenue increased by only 5.1% to EUR1.9bn, thanks to the strong performance of its fruit juice business and increased prices that offset higher costs in the group's dairy business.

The global economic slowdown and weaker demand eat into EBITDA, which fell 13.6% to EUR141.1m.

The company forecast a 3% increase in revenue for 2008, while EBITDA is expected to be around 5% lower that in 2007.