Air Liquide has completed the acquisition of Al Khafrah Industrial Gases, a company headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which has operations in both Riyadh and Dammam.

The industrial and medical gas market in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the largest economy in the Middle East, presents an attractive growth potential for Air Liquide, with double-digit growth in 2008, driven by the expansion of the petrochemical industry and the development of infrastructure projects.

The new venture will see Sheikh Mubarak Al Khafrah, one of the founders and former chairman of Al Khafrah, contributing to the expansion of the newly incorporated company, which will be named Air Liquide Al Khafrah Industrial Gases.

With more than US$20m of sales in 2008 and around 100 employees, Al Khafrah’s main business activities include the manufacturing, the sale of packaged gases (oxygen, nitrogen, argon, acetylene, etc) and bulk air gases.

This acquisition complements the Saudi activity of Pure Helium, which was acquired last year. It provides Air Liquide with a solid basis for the continuing development of its Industrial Merchant activity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and in the Middle East zone in general, where the Group currently employs more than 450 people.

Sheikh Mubarak Al Khafrah commented, “I am particularly delighted to be the partner of Air Liquide in this acquisition. I am also confident that a leader like Air Liquide will bring its gas application know-how to accelerate the growth of the company.”

Pierre Dufour, Senior Executive Vice-President of the Air Liquide Group, responsible for the Middle East zone, said, “This acquisition will strengthen our position in the Middle East and allows us to get swift access to one of the most dynamic industrial gas markets in the region. This acquisition is aligned with the Group’s programme of targeted investments, notably in the Emerging Economies.”