China Vanke, the mainland's biggest publicly traded developer, said third-quarter earnings more than doubled on higher sales and a reduction in income tax, even as Beijing imposed austerity measures to cool the sector. The Shenzhen-listed company said net profit surged 118 per cent to 180 million yuan, up from 85 million yuan posted a year ago. Sales rose 49.6 per cent to 1.74 billion yuan from 1.16 billion yuan. Listed developers such as Vanke may benefit from government efforts to cool the property market as austerity measures squeeze out smaller competitors, analysts said. The government, which has introduced new taxes and raised borrowing costs, has stepped up efforts to cool property prices. Premier Wen Jiabao this month said the government will maintain its grip on bank lending and the property market for the next three months. To reduce its reliance on leading cities, Vanke has entered Qingdao, Hangzhou and Ningbo this year as it widens its presence in less developed, though less-profitable, urban centres. The company's gross margin, or total gross profit divided by total sales, fell to 32 per cent in the third quarter, down seven percentage points from a year ago. Vanke's gearing rose to 71 per cent at the end of last month, up 11 percentage points from a year earlier after an additional 10.3 billion yuan in borrowing this year for land acquisition and construction. Total borrowing rose to 12.81 billion yuan at the end of last month. Vanke paid 44.1 million yuan in income tax for the quarter, compared with 71.4 million yuan in the same period last year, after selling 846,000 square metres of property development. The company expects its gearing to fall after shareholders recently approved a proposal to raise money by placing shares worth 4.2 billion yuan. Vanke said yesterday it would grasp the opportunities arising from the consolidation of the industry, without elaborating. Chairman Wang Shi said earlier this year that he wanted Vanke to be listed in Hong Kong but 'the opportunity has not arisen'.