Independence – a factor in Messer’s success
The industrial gases company was able to improve its sales in the 2009 financial year compared with the previous year. Independent product supply is supported by a long-term investment strategy.
Industrial gases specialist Messer achieved global sales of about 797 million euros in the 2009 financial year, thereby exceeding total sales for the record year of 2008 by approximately two million euros. EBITDA for 2009 was 175 million euros. The total number of employees went up from 4696 to 5211, thanks in part to a joint venture with Chinese steel manufacturer Panzhihua Iron & Steel, part of the Sichuan-based Pangang Group, in which Messer holds a 60 per cent stake. “We have invested over 600 million euros in ten large new gas production facilities across Europe – a necessary step as in many regions Messer was reliant on externally sourced gas supplies. Today, almost all the products we sell are produced by ourselves,” explains Stefan Messer, owner and Chief Executive Officer of the Messer Group.
The financial crisis triggered in 2008 had a marked impact on the 2009 financial year of the privately owned and operated Messer Group. In the first six months of the year, some of the leading economies experienced an unprecedented slump in production and trade, which was made even more acute by the devaluation of, in particular, Eastern European currencies in relation to the euro. The situation was different in the so-called emerging economies, with China, among others, posting extremely robust economic growth. From the beginning of the second half of the year, though, the situation stabilised somewhat, resulting in a slow but steady recovery. The significant development of our business in China, accompanied by a range of positive factors, even made it possible for the Messer Group to achieve a 0.3 % increase in sales compared with the previous year in what were extremely difficult economic circumstances. “Messer’s success depends on independence and a long-term strategy. The fact that we are not a listed company means that we have no obligation to demonstrate short-term successes,” says Stefan Messer.
Messer successful in Germany once again
Messer’s return to the German market continued successfully, boosting the overall development of the West Europe Region with an increase in sales of more than 40 % compared with the previous year. Since October 2009, Messer has once again been producing air gases such as nitrogen, oxygen and argon in Germany at an air separation plant on the premises of Deutsche Edelstahlwerke in Siegen. In the past year, Messer achieved sales of over 9 million euros in Germany and has so far installed 174 of its own tank systems on customers’ premises. The installation of a further 100 tanks for the supply of liquid gases to customers across all sectors of industry is planned for 2010. Messer wants to achieve sales of over 29 million euros in Germany this year. In autumn, Messer will commission another production unit for air gases on the site of Salzgitter Flachstahl AG in Salzgitter.
Online annual report conserves resources
Just like last year, the Messer Group’s annual report has been produced exclusively as an online version for cost saving and environmental protection reasons. In order to do more justice to the internet medium, the individual sections are prefaced by, among other things, interviews with the company’s senior managers. Further interviews provide yet more information on individual topics, from the employee survey to CO2 strategy. All the interviews have been made available as video clips, mp3 audio files and podcasts. The podcast function also allows the interviews to be used in video or audio format when offline. Selected files can simply be downloaded and played on a laptop or multimedia mobile phone – practically as information “to go“.
45 years of economic history on the internet
Messer has made available all its annual reports for the past 45 years on its website www.messergroup.com. For each year, historian and author Jörg Leszenski has written an informative outline on the economic environment, providing a unique and independent insight into the company’s history, not just for economic historians. Since 2004, Messer has once again been an owner operated company with Stefan Messer as CEO. From 1965 to 2001, Messer, at that time a subsidiary of Hoechst AG, had operated under the name Messer Griesheim.