(EnergyAsia, March 14 2011, Monday) — Thanks to strong growth in its China operations, German industrial gas and engineering company Linde AG has reported a 22.6% rise in operating profits to 2.925 billion euro for 2010. Its revenue was up 14.8% to a record 12.868 billion euro.

Its after-tax earnings increased 62.9% to 1.064 billion euro.

The Munich-based company said its 2010 operating margin also increased by 140 basis points to 22.7% (2009: 21.3%).

Its gases division in the Greater China region increased sales by 36.8% to 576 million euro making this area the strongest growth driver in its Asia and Eastern Europe operating segment.

The company said its joint venture activities continue to expand in the Greater China region, with the share of sales from its interests in joint ventures rising 20.9% in 2010 to 197 million euro.

Linde’s operating cash increased 13.1% to 2.422 billion euro while return on capital employed (ROCE) rose to 12.5% (2009: 10.4%). Linde reduced its net financial debt by 622 million euro to 5.497 billion euro.

At its annual general meeting on May 12, the company’s boards will propose to pay a dividend of 2.20 euro per share. This is an increase of 22.2% compared with the previous year’s dividend of 1.80 euro.

The group’s supervisory board also appointed Sanjiv Lamba as a new member of the Linde AG executive board.
Based in Singapore, Mr Lamba has been managing Linde’s business in the South and East Asia region, which forms part of the Asia & Eastern Europe operating segment. He will head the group’s gases business in Greater China, South and East Asia and in the South Pacific region, as well as the Asian joint ventures and the electronic gases product segment.

Wolfgang Reitzle, Linde AG’s CEO, said:

“We are delighted that the supervisory board has appointed Sanjiv Lamba to the executive board. This appointment demonstrates our awareness of the growing importance of the emerging economies of Asia to our group. In the 2010 financial year, the group was already reaping the benefit of its very good position in these markets.

“The global economy has grown faster and more vigorously than might have been expected. But our good performance is not just due to the recovery of the global economy. It is also the result of us being in a position to seize growth opportunities as they arise. Our gases and engineering businesses have a global presence. What’s more, we have continued to achieve efficiency gains.

“We have set ourselves new medium-term targets. We will be aiming to achieve group operating profit of at least four billion euro in the 2014 financial year. Our minimum target for return on capital employed for the same year is 14%. In the 2011 and 2012 financial years, we assume group sales and group operating profit will show continuous improvement.”