The Messer acquisition is partly responsible for Air Liquide reaching sales more than 13 per cent higher than 2004.

The group has posted sales of 2,476 million euros, an increase of 13.3 per cent on the first quarter of last year.

The growth has been put down to several reasons including the Messer acquisition, its geographic zones, increased strength in hydrogen, both in the United States and Europe, good growth in healthcare with medical gases and homecare in Europe and electronics. In a competitive environment, electronics is maintaining a high level of activity for Air Liquide, especially in equipment and installations sales in Asia.

Another growth area: for the group is its development in emerging Asia outside of electronics is continuing steadily, particularly in China, where our business is experiencing very strong growth (+40%). Operations recently acquired from Messer in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States have evolved in line with the group's expectations, both in terms of team integration and business development and the synergies it anticipated.

The company says predictions for this year can be confirmed, primarily due to efforts to guarantee quality, reliability and competitiveness to customers.

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