BOC’s two global gases businesses performed strongly in both the fourth quarter and in 2005. In aggregate their adjusted operating profit was up seven per cent in the quarter and eight per cent for the year.

Group results overall are impacted by portfolio changes including the disposal of a controlling interest in the Afrox hospitals business with effect from the end of March 2005.

ISP’s adjusted operating profit was improved by the disposal of the US packaged gas business in July 2004 and the elimination of associated overhead costs.

Increased energy costs were largely recovered through higher selling prices. BOC Edwards’ adjusted operating profit in the fourth quarter was better than in the third quarter, reflecting the early benefits of cost savings programmes that are planned to deliver further benefits in 2006.

Adjusted return on capital employed for 2005 of 16.2 per cent was higher than for 2004 despite the effect of the Afrox hospitals disposal. This was driven by improved returns in both the gases businesses.

A significant investment programme is under way with ten major new plants under construction in Asia and the Americas. Some of this benefit will accrue in 2006, with the full year benefit of most of the schemes being realised in 2007.

Chief Executive, Tony Isaac said: “BOC has reported record adjusted earnings for fiscal 2005, driven by strong growth in its global gases businesses.

“The disposal of packaged gases operations in the US has delivered the planned improvement in profitability for our industrial and special products business and growth in Asia supported the improvement in the process gas solutions business.

“The stronger performance in the gases businesses led to an improvement in return on capital employed for 2005. We have a significant investment programme under way with ten major new plants under construction in Asia and the Americas. Some of this benefit will accrue in 2006, with the full year benefit of most of the schemes being realised in 2007.”