Strong growth expected in South Africa


Air Products has been in South Africa since 1969, when parent company APCI and UK-based Air Products Ltd realised there were business opportunities in the country, especially with heavy engineering and steel companies. A JV was formed in which the state-owned Iron & Steel Corporation (ISCOR), now Mittal Steel, took 50%, and a second JV between Air Products Ltd and Babcock & Wilcox, a UK based engineering company, shared the remaining 50%.

Major production complexes were originally set up at Vanderbijlpark, south of Johannesburg, and at Newcastle, in Kwa Zulu (KWZ) Natal. The company invested heavily in the steel industry, becoming a major supplier to the then South African-owned ISCOR organisation.

Over the following three decades many changes took place both in South Africa and in Air Products. Allan Cooper, MD of Air Products South Africa, tells us that the company started to supply bulk to the
merchant market, produced from liquefiers associated with the ASUs supplying ISCOR (Mittal Steel).

Before Air Products entered the South African market, BOC dominated the business. The major contracts gained by Air Products in the steel sector, however, provided good business opportunities down-stream, in heavy engineering etc.

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