Messer and Hangzhou Hangyang, a Chinese firm specialised in the construction of major technical plants for industrial gases, have signed a joint-venture agreement today.

Cryogenic Engineering, a newly established company based in Frankfurt will be responsible for the turn-key completion of the project, as well as for marketing the facility.

The focal point of these activities will be the booming markets in Europe and the Near / Middle East.

Stefan Messer of Messer, said: 'We are currently merging our longstanding know-how with the enormous production capacity of our Chinese partner mainly for the East-European growth market.

'The manufacturing capacity of the Chinese joint partner is equivalent to more than 50 air separation plants per annum. Of the 10 to 50 million Euro in order volume per plant, more than half will be retained by the European and American suppliers of the joint venture.'

Due to a non-competition clause in effect for Messer until 2007, no production plants may be built on German or British soil. However, according to Stefan Messer, nothing stands in the way of a partnership with clients who have their production base outside of Germany and the UK.