Air Liquide continue to show positive growth in sales for the first quarter of 2005.

Consolidated sales for the first quarter 2005 were €2,476 million, an increase of +13.3% compared with the first quarter of 2004.

Sales in Gas and Services, which represent more than 88% of total Group sales, reached €2,201 million, an increase of +16.2% over the same period in 2004. The figure includes sales from acquired Messer operations of 180 million euros, a contribution of +9.5%, and comparable growth from activities of +5.1%.

Commenting on these figures, Benoît Potier, Chairman of the Management Board of Air Liquide said, “During the first quarter of 2005, we obtained good performance from the most dynamic geographic markets and activities. Sales growth in the first months of the year comes chiefly from our main growth markets. Hydrogen is developing rapidly, both in the US and Europe. Our European Healthcare activities are making favourable progress in medical gases and homecare. In a more volatile environment, good levels of activity were maintained in Electronics, particularly with equipment and installation sales in Asia, which will be followed by future gas sales. Besides Electronics, our development in emerging Asia is continuing with sustained momentum. Recently acquired Messer operations are developing in line with our expectations both in terms of activity and of anticipated synergies. On this basis, the Group maintains its outlook for the full year.”

The following results by region and application exclude foreign exchange, natural gas, Messer and the consolidation of Asian activities.

In the Asian Pacific, sales reached €393 million, an increase of +6.3% on a comparable basis. Excluding Japan, that growth was +16.4%. In the Americas, sales reached €584 million, up +6.1% on the same quarter last year, in addition to which Messer activities contributed an increase of +7.5% due to anticipated synergies from the integration. In Europe, sales amounted to €1,187 million, increasing by +4.2%, with Messer contributing a further +14.3%.

In the separate application areas, Medical gases, homecare and hygiene continued to deliver solid growth. The Group made strategic homecare and hygiene acquisitions in Austria and Germany generating a better position within the market.

A substantial growth in Large Industries was attributed to good levels of activity, particularly in the steel market and in turn boosted activity in Puertollano, Antwerp and Port Jérôme hydrogen units.