Local reports say that Algeria's privatisation authority is likely to give the Linde Group the green light to take over the country's industrial gas maker ENGI.

German business interests in the North African country have been growing significantly lately, largely through the participation of the busy Algerian-German Chamber of Commerce.

Today, some 140 German companies have a direct presence there, and have invested some 350 million euros over the past few years.

Looking to the future, in addition to rumoured deals with giants such as Linde, senior officials of the Chamber say some than €1 bn worth of business deals are currently being negotiated.

From a trade perspective, investment in the area seems a good move for the German group, in what seems a fast growing market. Commercial exchanges between the two countries rose to 2.7 billion euros in 2006, with Algeria exporting 1.6 billion euros to Germany, hence maintaining a slight trade surplus.

These figures rank Algeria as Germany's fifth commercial partner in MENA (Middle East North Africa region) after the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kuwait.