The Supervisory Board of Messer Group, based near Frankfurt have approved the compnay's annual report for 2006.

The consolidated annual sales amounted to €630m ($854m), which represents a growth of 9.5 percent compared to the previous year. Net profit reached €144m ($195m), an increase of 4.3 percent compared with 2005.

The Messer Eutectic Castolin Group - the Messer family's cutting, welding and coating technology division - increased its sales to €437m ($593m) in 2006, an increase of almost 20 percent on the previous year. Together the two divisions, which are both wholly owned by the family holding company, have now exceeded one billion euros.

In total the group has invested €152m ($206m) in its core markets in Europe and Asia in the 2006 financial year. This includes €37m ($50m) for new industrial gas production facilities in China, €24m ($33m) spent on new gas cylinders and €44m ($60m) for a commissioned nitrogen/oxygen ASU in Serbia.