Air Liquide's sales are up 12 per cent on last year.

Sales for the first half of this year were 5,041 million euros including sales from acquired Messer activities estimated at 250 million euros. Consolidated sales for the second quarter were 2,565 million euros, an increase of 11.6 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2004.

Explaining the figures, Benoit Potier, chairman of the management board of Air Liquide, said: \\$quot;The continuation of our growth in the first half fully illustrates the potential of our core activities, as well as the results of the group's long-term strategy. The good second quarter confirms the strengthening of certain trends seen at the beginning of the year, with sustained developing activities in the Americas and in Asia.

\\$quot;In Europe, despite a difficult economic climate, the group benefited from acquired Messer activities and growth drivers such as Healthcare and the environment, a particularly favourable area for our products, especially hydrogen.

\\$quot;Our teams also succeeded in achieving numerous commercial successes in new geographic markets, such as Central Europe, the Middle East, Russia and China. Furthermore, our engineering activities, which are a key source of technological advantage, and a driver of our future development, registered record levels of activity.\\$quot;

Sales from Gas and Services activities for the first half of 2005 were 4,421 million euros, an increase of 5.6 per cent on a comparable basis over the first half of 2004. For the second quarter, Gas and Services sales reached 2,220 million euros, up six per cent.

In the first half year, sales for Asia-Pacific were 789 million euros, up 7.7 per cent on a comparable basis. Excluding Japan, and on the same basis, growth was 18.2 per cent, however after a flat first quarter, Japan saw slight growth with good equipment and installation invoicing levels in electronics. Specialty gas activity remained stable, in line with semiconductor production.

In the Americas, sales to June 30th were 1,173 million euros, an increase of 6.3 per cent on a comparable basis. Activity in Industrial Customers was very strong in the US with acceleration in the second quarter thanks to the signing of new contracts. Recently acquired assets from Messer and Air Liquird's Latin American operations contributed significantly, with increased liquid volumes and pricing efforts on cylinder gases.

In Europe sales reached 2,381 million euros, up 4.5 per cent on a comparable basis helped by a solid performance in European Healthcare markets.

Analysing the results by activity, Air Liquide reported a satisfactory performance in Large Industries, with strong contributions from hydrogen and emerging markets. There was contrasting growth in different geographies, in line with steel and chemical market trends.

Growth in Electronics was driven by Asia mostly Taiwan and China with strong Equipment and Installation sales and good volumes for carrier gases. Specialty gas sales saw signs of recovery in the second quarter, after some erosion at the end of 2004. As anticipated, chemical liquid activities were deconsolidated from the beginning of the second quarter.

Progress in Industrial Customers came mostly from strong growth in the US, Latin America and emerging Asian countries. In Europe, services activities complemented new contracts to ensure sales growth. The group's priorities in Europe remain centred on commercial efficiency and productivity.

With a very good second quarter for all activities, Healthcare registered significant growth for the sixth consecutive quarter with Europe the main contributor.

Welding activities maintained good growth levels and Engineering and Construction made notable progress.

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