Bad Soden, Germany,

100-year tradition

3rd International Messer Innovation Award presented in Frankfurt

On Thursday, 1st April 2004, the Messer Group awarded its third series of International Messer Innovation Awards - worth a total of 45,000 Euros - as part of the event titled "Messer - A Success Story Continues" at the EXPLORA science & technology museum in Frankfurt am Main. The prizes went to German, French and Korean researchers and research teams who had achieved distinctions with innovative developments and new ideas related to the use of industrial gases. On this occasion at EXPLORA, Stefan Messer, designated CEO of Messer Group, presented the restructured enterprise's plans and provided an optimistic outlook into the future.

"The object of Messer's International Innovation Award is to motivate young people on the road to success and promote their ideas and inventions", stated Stefan Messer in his welcome speech to roughly 150 guests. Under the motto "Gas Talents At Start“, researchers and research teams all over Europe dealing with the utilization of industrial gases for new products and techniques were able to submit applications until October 31st, 2003 . In addition, a special prize was offered for staff of the Messer Group. The international jury comprising members from economic and educational institutions appraised more than 40 entries from throughout Europe, including China and the USA for the special staff prize.

Emphasis on usability of innovations

As two applications involving very similar processes headed the jury's selection, the first prize was shared by (a) Erich Lindner and Dieter Reichel from Max Bögl, Neumarkt, as well as Jens Tauchmann and Thomas Weichmann from Messer Griesheim, Krefeld, for the cooling of fresh concrete with artificial snow to increase stability and compressive strength, and (b) Dirk Weber and Frank Wittekopf from Kerr-McGee Pigments, Krefeld, for the cooling of pigment with liquid nitrogen.

The second prize went to PD Dr. habil. Thomas Marx, from the department of cardiac anesthesia at the University Clinic, Ulm, for developing a cryogenic technique of recovering Xenon during its use as a general anesthetic.

This recovery technique notably lowers the costs of Xenon anesthesia. The third prize was awarded for a technique of decontaminating cultural assets exposed to wood preservatives through extraction with supercritical carbon dioxide. This technique removes wood preservatives such as DDT and Lindan by up to 90 percent, thus permitting safe restoration and exhibition. The winners of this prize come from a wide variety of institutions: Erich Jelen and Rafael Michalski from the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT), Oberhausen; Andreas Weber from Goshen BioTech Inc., Korea; Dr. Achim Unger from the Rathgen Research Laboratory, Berlin; Manfried Eisbein from Saxony's Regional Office for the Preservation of Monuments, as well as Thomas Berger and Frank Gockel from Messer Griesheim, Krefeld.

The innovation prize intended specially for staff of the Messer Group went to Philippe Grognet, Messer France, and Hans-Peter Schmidt, Messer Griesheim, Krefeld, for developing Endolin®, a cost-efficient heat treatment process. The inert atmospheres generated by endogas and nitrogen in this process allow flexible application and notably improve the metallurgic properties of annealed metal components.

In addition to originality and future potential, decisive criteria for evaluating the submitted developments included level of technical advancement, the role of industrial gases in the innovation, and opportunities for joint implementation.

Messer's success story continues

This award was handed out for the first time in 1998 at the hundredth anniversary of the company's founding and for the second time in 2000. The Messer group intends to uphold its successful tradition in future. "Thanks to a lean administration and flat hierarchies, we will be able to act rapidly, flexibly and competently to enhance customers' success in their respective markets", said Stefan Messer, explaining the philosophy of the enterprise to be restructured.

In the future, international activities in 31 countries with roughly 60 operative companies and 120 locations in Europe and Asia will be directed from Sulzbach (Main-Taunus district), and central technical functions managed from Krefeld. The atmospheric gases oxygen, nitrogen and argon are produced at 25 air fractionation plants. 76 gas filling plants ensure an ideal infrastructure, Messer leading this market segment with 10 of its own CO2 sources in Europe. In many European countries, the Messer Group operates research facilities for developing modern application technologies involving industrial gases. As diverse as the gas spectrum are also the areas profiting from its application, such as the industries for steel and metal processing, chemicals, foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, electronics and medicine as well as the research and environmental technology sectors.

Under the leadership of CFO Harald Pinger, Messer is represented in China by twelve companies in the central industrial regions of Sichuan and Yunnan, as well as southern China and the Shanghai metropolitan area. In 2003, Messer was able to raise its share of the Chinese market to 5 percent.

"We are consistently pursuing new growth markets in Europe and China, where we promote the establishment of new production facilities as well as an extension of existing sites for gas production and supply. For this purpose, an investment budget of more than 400 million Euros by 2008 is at our disposal", declared Stefan Messer.

Once all the remaining prerequisites for this transaction have been fulfilled, the new Messer Group will commence operations in 2004 with staff numbering 3600 and a turnover of 500 million Euros.

As reported by the press, the Messer family will further manage the industrial gas business following the planned takeover by family holding Messer Industrie GmbH of all shares held in the Messer Group by financial investors Goldman Sachs Funds and Allianz Capital Partners. In the middle of March, European antitrust authorities issued their approval for the sales of businesses in Germany and Great Britain to the French Air Liquide Group. Approval from the US antitrust authorities is still pending.