Bad Soden, Germany,

2007 was a year of investment for Messer

Industrial gas specialist Messer increased turnover by 12%

In the financial year 2007 the Messer Group, operating in its core regions of Europe and Asia and through its subsidiary in Peru, achieved a turnover of 705 million euro and an EBITDA of 154 million euros. Turnover was up 12% on the previous year. The same period saw steep rises in energy, raw materials and product delivery costs. The group successfully maintained its market presence in all these regions and in some cases even enlarged it. The workforce grew by 3% from 4,247 to 4,380.

Investments of over 170 million euros

In the financial year 2007 the Messer Group invested in independent product sourcing. Investment totalled 173 million euros, equivalent to 24.6% of annual turnover. As in the previous year, most of the investment was in the construction of air separation plants for the production of nitrogen, oxygen and argon. The most important investments in Europe were for an air separation plant in Spain to safeguard the growth potential of the existing pipeline system in the Tarragona chemical complex. Messer also embarked on the construction of air separation plants for on-site customers with whom long-term supply contracts were agreed in 2007. These production plants were designed to supply not only the main customer but also the liquid market. This applies to the new air separation plants in the Valais canton of Switzerland, Rumania (Resita) and Bosnia-Herzegovina (Zenica). Some investment was also made in industrial gas bottling: for example, state-of-the-art bottling plants have come on line in Denmark and France (Folschviller). In Italy (Turin) and Rumania relocation included the commencement of the construction of new bottling plants.

In China a fifth air separation plant has been completed for one of China’s biggest steelworks in Hunan, and progress has been made on an additional production facility to meet increased demand from one of our chief customers in Chengdu. In Vietnam a long-term supply contract has been signed with an important steel manufacturer, laying the foundations for a first air separation plant there.

Substantial increase in turnover in core areas – Europe and China

Turnover in Western Europe reached 238 million euros. This is 34% of the total turnover and represents an increase of 11% over the previous year. The chief contribution was from the further development of technologies for handling CO2 with regard to environmental protection and food technology while safeguarding gas supplies. Another substantial contribution came from the expanding medicinal gas business in Italy and the Benelux. In Spain Messer supplies air gases to an industrial complex of pharmaceutical and chemical companies via a pipeline system, profiting from an increase in manufacturing activity.

196 million euros of this turnover – 28% of the total - was generated in Central Europe, a rise of 7%. The expanding helium business in Austria and dynamic overall economic expansion in Poland and the Czech Republic, due largely to foreign investment, boosted the demand for gas in all sectors of industry. Messer’s Baltic and Ukrainian subsidiaries also exhibited rapid growth. At the year end a long-term supply contract was signed with the Dneprosteel steelworks in the Ukraine, heralding the construction of the first air separation plant there.

Southeast Europe accounted for 24% of total turnover in the financial year 2007: 12% up on 2006 at 167 million euros. A number of companies were licensed to produce gases for use in the manufacture of food and medicines pursuant to European law.

The Messer Group’s Chinese turnover in 2007 was 94 million euros, a 24% rise. Not only the steel industry but also chemicals and electronics are steadily gaining in importance.