South-Eastern Europe: expanding activities in Serbia and the region

July 31, 2007

Over the past three years, Serbia has been one of Europe’s fastest growing economies with an average annual GDP growth of 7.3%. It is the most industrialized country in ex-Yugoslavia. Its major growth drivers are telecommunications, construction and transport, with a recent upswing of industrial production. Its strategic position allows good access to transportation corridors between Western and South-Eastern Europe and Turkey.

Air Liquide has just founded its Serbian subsidiary located in Belgrade. As a first success, Air Liquide Belgrade signed a new contract with Monbat in Serbia. Monbat is a Bulgarian company, which manufactures accumulator batteries for various applications. It has been a customer of Air Liquide Bulgaria since January 2005, and is now developing its activities in Indjija, 40 km from Belgrade. Air Liquide will supply significant volumes of liquid oxygen and will provide related services. Gas deliveries will be made from Air Liquide sources in the region.

With these developments, Air Liquide is increasing its presence and operations in South-Eastern Europe. Since the end of last year, Air Liquide has operated an Air Separation Unit in Romania and is supplying cylinder and liquid gases to a major shipyard in South-Eastern Romania. It will soon commission its own acetylene production and filling center in the region.
By end 2007, Air Liquide Bulgaria will also start-up a new Air Separation Unit with liquid production close to Sofia, which will support the development of local Industrial Merchant activities. It complements Large Industries’ contracts with key customers already in place for some years.

The accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the European Union has facilitated the logistic supply chain in the region and provides synergies with the well-established operations of Air Liquide Hellas in Greece.

Klaus Schmieder, Senior Executive Vice-President of the Air Liquide Group, stated: We are pleased to expand our activities in the very promising area of South-Eastern Europe where we are facing increasing demand in the industrial gases market. This new development reinforces our ability to serve existing and new customers reliably and also reflects the Group’s growth strategy to develop our presence in emerging economies.