The year 2009
The financial and economic crisis that originated in the USA in autumn of 2008 and triggered a global economic conflagration had the global economy on tenterhooks in 2009. Collapsing international trade, declining business investment and weak demand on the part of increasingly unsettled consumers led to the worst recession since the Second World War. Although government stimulus programmes, injections of capital for banks that were ‘too big to fail’ and the low interest-rate policies by central banks helped financial markets and the economy as a whole gradually stabilise in the second half of the year, real gross domestic product worldwide fell by 2.3 per cent.
The experience of the economic crisis differed, however, from one region to the next. Hardest hit by the economic turmoil were export-oriented, industrialised countries. In the United States, economic output fell by 2.7 per cent; in Japan, it fell by 5.4 per cent, and in the Federal Republic of Germany it dropped by 5.3 per cent. Nearly all of the key German industries experienced sharp drops in production. In mechanical engineering, sales collapsed by 23.1 per cent; among motor-vehicle manufacturers, sales were down 20.5 per cent; in the electrical industry, the drop was 17.0 per cent; and in the chemical industry 17.7 per cent. In the chemicals industry, business with chemical raw materials (-21.1 per cent) and man-made fibres (-24.5 per cent) was particularly hard-hit by the crisis.The economic trend was considerably more robust in the emerging markets, such as the People’s Republic of China and India, which increased price-adjusted gross domestic product by 8.5 and 5.4 per cent, respectively. The strong economy in China also played a major role in stabilising the situation with the core business of the Messer Group. There were more minor declines in Europe, North America and Japan. Still, the still-prosperous business in China kept the Group on track, and, despite considerable setbacks in the welding and cutting sector, ultimately provided Messer with a satisfactory conclusion to the year. All in all, consolidated revenue on the year in 2009 increased by around 0.3 per cent to EUR 797 million; EBITDA was up some 2 per cent and stood at EUR 175 million.