Air Liquide’s Board of Directors adopted the 2008 financial statements at its meeting on February 13, 2009.
2008 revenue rose to €13,103 million, an increase of +11.0%, and the operating income recurring to €1,949 million, up +8.6%. Growth throughout 2008 came principally from new start-ups in Large Industries, solid demand and pricing in Industrial Merchant, resilience in Electronics and sustained growth in Healthcare.
Commenting on the 2008 results, Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO of the Air Liquide Group, stated:
“The 2008 performances demonstrate the Group’s growth dynamism as well as its resilience, notably during the fourth quarter when sales in Gas & Services, supported by volumes and pricing, grew by +7.9% on a comparable basis.
As a result of its strategy, Air Liquide has strong structural advantages, including diverse markets, a broad mix of products and applications, and the nature of its long-term contracts. Consequently, 80% of the Group’s revenue today comes either from long-term defensive markets or from products that are mostly unaffected by cyclical factors.
In addition, Air Liquide is now reaping the positive effects of positions recently taken in high-growth regions, plus an increasing number of start-ups and ramp-ups of new production units which should bring additional sales revenue of €1 billion over the period 2009-2010.
In 2009, our priorities are going to be cash management, increased efforts in cost containment, and greater selectiveness in our investments. Priorities within the ALMA company program have already been realigned accordingly, notably by raising our cost-savings target to more than €250 million in 2009. By thus strengthening its fundamentals, Air Liquide aims to secure and finance growth in its revenue and net profit in 2009.
Air Liquide Group has made investment commitments totaling around €7 billion over the past three years, setting a solid growth foundation for the years ahead. These investments have been directed primarily towards markets identified as promising and long-term, which will enable Air Liquide, once the effects of the economic slowdown have been absorbed, to pursue its growth rate in line with its medium-term objectives.”
At the next Annual General Meeting of Shareholders Air Liquide’s Board of Directors will propose the payment of a dividend of €2.25 per share. This level of dividend is unchanged from 2007, though the number of shares outstanding increased by 10%, following the bonus share issue in June 2008. Air Liquide dividend will be paid on 18 May 2009.
Air Liquide Board approved draft resolutions to be submitted to the Annual General Meeting, in particular, for the renewal of the terms of office for four years of Thierry Desmarest, Alain Joly, and Thierry Peugeot. In addition, the Board formally noted the decision of Sir Lindsay Owen Jones not to seek renewal of his term of office as a director. Air Liquide Board thanked Sir Lindsay Owen Jones warmly for the strong contribution he has made as a member of Air Liquide’s Board over the past 15 years.
Furthermore, the Board of Directors set the remuneration levels for the Executive officers for 2009 and reviewed the Company’s rules of governance in light of the new AFEP-MEDEF recommendations. Further details will be available on Air Liquide’s Internet site.