Air Liquide (Pty) Ltd, the world leader in industrial and medical gases, enjoys the second largest market share in the Southern African market and has further strengthened its position in the market with an improved Broadband Economic Empowerment (BEE) rating of triple-B status.

The newly received triple-B rating from the National Empowerment Rating Agency (NERA) gives Air Liquide leadership in the industry in terms of BEE implementation, as a level five contributor according to the DTI schedule.

Derek Wilson, Air Liquide’s Human Resources Director, commented, “I think the new rating is significant in that it signals a clear intent to the market that we are committed to the goals of transformation in South Africa.”

“It (the new rating) allows us to be a lot more attractive to existing and prospective customers. It also improves their BEE ratings by association,” Wilson added.

The improved rating reflects the whole ethic and approach of the company, according to Elias Mothibe, Air Liquide’s Group Industrial Relations Manager, who explained, “Air Liquide views Black Economic Empowerment as a process and not an event. By Empowerment we refer to a process wherein the company assists and educates previously disadvantaged persons and businesses in surrounding communities close to Air Liquide plants to enable them to contribute positively to the economy of the country.”

“This process is enshrined in our policies with respect to affirmative procurement, skills-development, employment equity, ownership, management, enterprise development and social development. An integrated and coherent approach towards the implementation of these policies is fully supported by the Air Liquide Board of Directors and its shareholders” added Mothibe.

Air Liquide CEO Alain Larousse believes the award underlines the company’s commitment to the South African market and its support for skill-set developments in the region.

Larousse explained, “Our triple-B, Broadband Economic Empowerment (BEE) rating, awarded by the respected independent agency NERA continues to move us upward in the ratings, and proves our total commitment to South Africa. This result is in line with our 3-year BEE action plan and is complimentary to stronger local investment and job creation.”

“We are fully supporting national objectives to develop skills and entrepreneurship of previously disadvantaged people and are proud to see our efforts recognized. In parallel, our subsidiary Air Liquide Healthcare Pty Ltd, which supplies medical gases and services to hospitals has already achieved level A last year and is also expected to improve its rating this year. ”