Air Liquide has continued the development of its home healthcare activity with the acquisition of a 73.3 percent share of Healthy Sleep Solutions of Australia. The deal affirms the growth of the healthcare at home sector for the gases industry.

Likewise, while it may not have necessarily caught the headlines at the time, when The Linde Group revealed its first quarter 2013 financial results earlier this year, the prominence of the homecare business was underlined.

One of the first points that Linde made when the results were published in May was the positive impact of US homecare company Lincare, acquired last year in a deal estimated to be worth up to $4.6 billion.

Revenue generated by Florida-based Lincare in the reporting period was €397 million ($520 million approx.) and had a noticeable affect on the group’s Gases Division. The division achieved 14.8 percent revenue growth in the three months to March 31, 2013, compared to first quarter 2012. This equates to a rise in revenues of around €444m ($582 million) – with Lincare contributing vastly to this sum.

In fact as Linde itself explained, on a comparable basis (excluding exchange rate, natural gas price effects and the consolidation effect of Lincare), the increase in revenue was much lower at 3.7 percent.

Such figures appear to reflect the growing significance of the healthcare product area for the gases community. This was highlighted again recently with Air Liquide’s acquisition of Healthy Sleep Solutions, a leading player in the field of diagnosis and treatment for patients with sleep disorders in Australia.

In Australia, it is estimated that around 600,000 people suffer from sleep apnea, of which only 25 percent have been diagnosed to date. In 2012, Healthy Sleep Solutions has taken care of over 10,000 patients in Australia. Relying on sleep diagnosis at home and in laboratories, Air Liquide will now provide in Australia complete quality care services for patients with mild to severe sleep disorders.

Pascal Vinet, vice-president, Healthcare Global Operations and member of the Air Liquide Group Executive Committee, said in a statement, “This acquisition is in line with our growth strategy in home healthcare which aims at extending our international network to new, high-potential markets. Health is a growth driver for Air Liquide.”