The Messer Group are outsourcing the management of their communications to AT&T to provide more time to concentrate on future growth.

The five year $8 million deal will see AT&T link over 100 Messer Group locations in more than 30 countries across Europe. AT&T’s task will be to set up, control and monitor the network for Messer and to guarantee specific availability and performance criteria.

The Messer Group’s new network, an Internet Protocol-based virtual private network (IP-VPN), will reflect the latest in new technology. The technology forms the basis for secure, stable, speed-adjustable connections. It is also flexible enough to incorporate business locations of all sizes and will make it possible to access business-critical applications from virtually any of the Group’s locations, anywhere in the world.

Chief Financial Officer Messer, Dr. Hans-Gerd Wienands, says the new system will increase profitability, “In order to be able to grow profitably, our Group needs an IT infrastructure that has been optimised for our business processes but also generates cost savings. Our new corporate network is faster, more stable and more secure than the previous solutions. It will also result in lower operating costs from 2006 onwards.”

Commenting on the deal, Martin Schutz, Vice President and Country Manager for AT&T Germany said,“ Messer Group recognised that the new corporate network would first and foremost help create competitive advantages. In future, it will no longer be possible to modify existing business practices or to introduce new applications without utilising the latest network technologies. This new infrastructure provides Messer Group with key tool to support the targeted growth of the company.”

The agreement with AT&T is part of the strategic restructuring of Messer’s IT infrastructure, and is in addition to an outsourcing agreement with Accenture in July 2004.

The 9-year agreement with Accenture costing $50 million was signed on the 7th July 2004. They were given the task to consolidate and administer existing SAP systems, develop tailor-made logistics applications, as well as the establishment of and support for an IT help desk for all Messer Group employees.