The privately owned industrial gas company, Messer, has proved its resilience in the tough financial conditions, announcing the start-up of its new ASU in Siegen, Germany, as well as ambitious plans for investment on a worldwide scale.

Back in 2004, the Messer family experienced bitter-sweet changes, having to sell off almost two thirds of the company and consequently lose its gas operations in the UK, Germany and the US, but then getting the opportunity to acquire the remaining shares in the old company and make the Messer Group a fully family owned business.

Under the management of its owner Stefan Messer, the firm reappeared in the German market in May 2008, and fingers and toes were crossed for its success in the region.

This week, Messer’s first new production plant starts operation, on schedule, marking an important step for the company.

From 1st October, Messer will produce oxygen, nitrogen and argon at the Deutsche Edelstahlwerke site in Siegen, Germany.

Messer has invested around €35m in the construction of the new ASU, which stands on an area of 10,000 square metres.

Along with the newly constructed distribution, filling and logistics centre for industrial gases in Siegen, Messer has created over 20 jobs in the region.

High purity medical respiratory oxygen is also being produced in the new production plant, and Messer will supply two of the largest German rehab and medical engineering firms with highly purified medical oxygen for home delivery to patients with respiratory diseases.

Worldwide investment

In spite of the financial crisis, Messer has been able to stick to its investment plans.

It is currently investing around €700m in atmospheric gas production plants in Europe and Asia.

By doing this, Messer hopes to secure its independence and its future, in order to look after its 4,500 plus employees.

Ten new air separation plants are under construction or already constructed in Europe, and a further nine in Asia.

The company has now entered into a cooperation agreement with the Chinese steel manufacturer Panzhihua Iron & Steel, part of the Pangang Group, for the construction of three production facilities for industrial gases and the acquisition of existing gas generating plants in the Chinese province of Sichuan.

The joint venture is investing a combined amount of over €100m. Messer holds a 60% stake in the company, which employs 500 people in Sichuan.

The production plants supply gases for the steelworks belonging to the Panzhihua Group, the largest manufacturer of steel for track construction.

The cooperation agreement has a duration of 30 years. Through this agreement, Messer is confirming its long-term commitment to the Chinese industrial gases market, and proving it is now well and truly back in business.