No global slowdown says Air Liquide

15 February 2008 13:47  [Source: ICIS news]

By Nigel Davis

Industrial gases demand still buoyedLONDON (ICIS news)--Industrial gases giant Air Liquide has not felt any impact of the much talked about economic slowdown or possible US recession on its businesses, company executives said on Friday.

Echoing the sentiments expressed by other senior industry managers this week, including BASF chief executive Jurgen Hambrecht in an interview with the Financial Times on Monday, the Air Liquide executive team suggested that, for the Paris-based company, 2008 would look very much like 2007.

Last year, Air Liquide saw sales climb by 7.8% to reach €11.8bn ($17.3bn). Full year net profits were up 12.1% at €1.1bn.

“Globally we don’t see any slowdown,” chief executive Benoit Potier said.

In Europe growth so far has continued as it did in 2007, senor executive vice-president Klaus Schmeider, said.

Based on January data, gases demand in Germany and northern Europe continues to be strong. Demand growth in southern Europe is probably up after some difficulties in 2007, he added.

“We read the same papers and check our volumes each week, senior executive vice-president, Pierre Dufour said.

“We see no downturn in volumes in our businesses in the key regions of the US,” he added.

The chemical industry is operating at very high rates, he said, and is helped by the relative cost of ethane feedstock compared to naphtha.

“So far in the US we don’t see any signs of a recession,” he added.

“We enter the year with most of our markets well oriented, which gives us confidence in Air Liquide’s ability, at constant exchange rates, to achieve double-digit growth in net profit in 2008,” Poitier told investment analysts.

($1 = €0.68)

By: Nigel Davis
+44 20 8652 3214

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