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The year 2016

The globalisation of our world continued in 2016, bringing about many political and economic changes.

An even more integrated global economy with multinational trade agreements is faced with trends back towards national interests. Especially in Europe, this development, which is politically rightwing in orientation, was reinforced by the Middle East refugee problem.

The Brexit vote meant that the United Kingdom became the first country to position itself against the European Union. Right-wing populist parties are also gaining in importance in other European countries. However, Europe must not fall apart if it is to hold its own against the emerging regions in Asia and America. On the contrary, we need to consolidate and use our economic strength, our cultural values and our high level of education to secure prosperity, peace and success. Going back to nation states would be fatal.

Stefan Messer, Bad Soden 2016

CSR Report and Management Report of the Messer Group GmbH 2016
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The year 2015

In 2015, hundreds of our colleagues from throughout the Messer Group posed in front of the camera. The occasion was our first ever global "Employees' Day". T-shirts bearing the core statement of our employer branding, "This is Messer. This is our way", were specially made for the event. I am especially pleased about this clear message and the associated commitment to our company.

I am convinced that we have the right team in place to continue along the same path, both now and in the future, that has brought us so far already – our way. The financial year 2015 was a good one for the companies that make up the Messer world. We achieved nearly every one of our economic goals – many spot on; some, we even exceeded. This is something of which we are proud, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people who made an important contribution to this result through their hard work and commitment: our employees. Thanks to their knowledge, their experience, their motivation and their team spirit, they each form an important link in the value creation chain of our business. They represent that which characterises Messer as an employer together with its brand and the culture of a family company.

Stefan Messer, Bad Soden in the spring of 2016

Corporate Responsibility Report and Management Report of the Messer Group GmbH 2015
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The year 2014

Neither feast nor famine – even though some of the hopes for an above-average global economic trend went unfulfilled, the global economy still remained on a slight upswing. Real gross domestic product rose by 3.4 per cent worldwide. Among the developed countries, which had average growth of 1.4 per cent (2013: + 1.3%), the United States stood out with 2.4 per cent. Remarkable growth rates in gross domestic product were reported in India (+ 7.2 per cent) and the Sub-Saharan countries of Africa (+ 5.5 per cent).

Of particular interest to Messer was the trend seen in the Chinese economy, which, with growth of 7.4 per cent, registered development that was less pronounced than expected. Nonetheless, thanks to numerous state projects to expand its infrastructure and high domestic demand, China remained one of the mainstays of the global economy.

The crisis-hit economies of the Eurozone managed to leave the slump of the previous two years behind them. The low price of petroleum, cuts in interest rate by the European Central Bank and a low exchange rate against the US dollar led to growth of 0.9 per cent. The trend for the German economy was above-average (+ 1.6 per cent) and also benefited from strong domestic demand. The trend for key industries was varied. Electrical engineering (+ 12.7%) and motor vehicle construction (+ 10.5%) flourished, while the chemical industry (- 1.1%) was hard-hit by declining export figures to Russia.

Against a disparate overall global economic environment, revenue for the Messer Group – against even its own expectations – increased by just two per cent to around EUR 1.05 billion, yet EBITDA increased by four per cent to EUR 241 million.

Annual report 2014 (only available in English)
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The year 2013

At 3.0 per cent, growth in global gross domestic product was rather modest again in 2013 and lagged behind the previous year's figure. Once again, an important contribution to the slight upturn in the global economy came from the emerging and developing economies (5.1 per cent real growth). Still, the leading regions of Asia could not regain the impressive growth figures of the past. In the People’s Republic of China, economic growth of (still considerable) 7.7 per cent stood at its lowest rate since 1999.

The economic situation in the industrialised countries around the world remained difficult. In the Eurozone, as before, the main concern remained the financial and budgetary crisis. Debt levels remained high for nearly all the states, and public and private investment was subdued. As a result, economic output in the Eurozone declined by 0.5 per cent.

The recession in the countries of the Eurozone affected the German economy as well. Its key industries, however, had difficulty staying afloat. Total revenue in the electrical sector fell by 2.1 per cent, and in mechanical engineering the real production was 1.5 per cent lower. A slight year-over-year increase was seen in the chemical-pharmaceutical industry (+2.0 per cent) and in the automotive industry (+ 1.3 per cent). After all was said and done, the German economy came away relatively unscathed, registering a modest increase in gross domestic product (+ 0.5 per cent).

The subdued global economic trend, slightly declining growth in some of the emerging economies of Asia, the euro crisis and the rather weak performance of European economies did not pass by the Messer Group without a trace. Revenue fell by around 5.7 per cent to EUR 1.03 billion; operating profit (EUR 231 million) was also slightly lower yet still surpassed the firm's own expectations at the beginning of the year.

Annual report 2013
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The year 2012

Over the course of the year, global economic development was subject to strong fluctuations that pushed global gross domestic product (+ 3.2 per cent) down below the previous year's figure. Beginning in the second quarter, the economy weakened in many regions. The Eurozone proved the lead ‘problem child’ of this scenario. The crisis of sovereign debt intensified, budget cuts and an unfavourable investment climate placed a burden on many of the economies of Europe. Gross domestic product in the 17 countries of the Eurozone fell by 0.6 per cent compared to 2011. The poor economic situation was then projected back onto the entire global economy. Low demand from Europe had a negative effect on economic development in China and Japan, among others.

Although industry in Germany also had the consequences of the economic downturn to contend with, the German economy held steady overall. The annual economic report of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology saw the German economy in a robust situation that had noticeably ebbed over the last quarter: ‘The competitiveness of the German economy is high, and despite increasing pressures and risks at home and abroad, German economic growth is robust. Employment levels and prosperity in Germany have steadily risen over the past years. Again in 2012, Germany – in contrast to the Eurozone as a whole – reported considerable growth in the amount of 0.7 per cent. Over the course of the year, however, economic momentum continuously slackened.’ As ‘central causes for the weak end of the year’, the opinion identified, ‘in addition to a significant slowdown in the global economy, particularly the uncertainty among market participants as a result of high levels of debt in the industrialised countries’ that had, ‘from the beginning of the year, had a massive impact on the German economy's willingness to invest’.

Particularly in Germany, the trend for the Messer Group was better than average and revealed a 14-per cent increase in revenue. Added to this were sustained good rates of growth in China, Vietnam, Peru and Turkey, which permitted the group of companies to increase overall revenue compared with 2011 by a full EUR 60 million.

Annual report 2012
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The year 2011

The global economy was still in good shape in numerous groups of countries, but then the momentum for growth in nearly all of the economic regions was lost. Economic stakeholders everywhere were called upon once more to bear more of the risks for the global economy. With the sovereign debt crisis intensified in the US and in the Eurozone, and with uncertainty among investors and consumers alike, growth in worldwide real gross domestic product stood at 3.9 per cent and was lower than experts had forecast. Among the emerging and developing countries (+ 6.2 per cent growth in economic output), the sub-Saharan countries, India and China all continued to rank among the world's boom regions. However, the Chinese economy gradually lost momentum compared to previous years. Industrial production and exports declined. Economic development in the industrialised countries was significantly more modest, and with growth of 1.6 per cent these economies fell short of the previous year's growth (+ 3.2 per cent).

In the Eurozone, strict austerity policies in highly indebted countries such as Greece, Portugal and Spain put a damper on the economy. The economic growth seen in 2010, the year of consolidation, (+ 1.9 per cent) was not achieved (+ 1.5 per cent). The Federal Republic of Germany remained the locomotive for economic development within the Eurozone. During the first two quarters in particular, the German economy recovered further from the effects of the financial and economic crisis in 2008/09, sustained by high demand for exports and a steady domestic demand, and by year’s end it had registered 3.0 per cent growth in gross domestic product. All sectors contributed to the 10.9-per cent revenue growth experienced by German industry. Outstanding gains were recorded in mechanical engineering (+ 15.0 per cent), metal production (+ 14.7 per cent) and in motor-vehicle construction (+ 10.8 per cent).

By the 2011 financial year, not much of the crisis could be felt at the Messer Group, either. Excellent business in Germany, in France, in Switzerland and especially in South-Eastern Europe and China, pushed overall revenue for the Messer Group beyond the EUR 1 billion mark for the first time (EBITDA totalled to EUR 241 million).
Annual report 2011
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The year 2010

Things always seem to happen when you least expect them. The global economy recovered much more quickly than expected from the global shock of 2008/09. World production (+ 4.9 per cent) and world trade (+ 12.3 per cent) increased noticeably and already returned to values on an order of magnitude of those seen prior to the severe slump in the autumn of 2008. There were disparities, though, in the rates of growth and in the contribution to economic recovery by the various groups of countries. In addition to an expansive monetary and fiscal policy in many countries, it was high demand in the emerging markets that, with an average increase of 7.6 per cent of GNP, contributed significantly to global economic recovery (median growth in GDP worldwide was around 5.3 per cent). The emerging markets in South America and Southeast Asia were particularly steadfast in remaining on course. The People's Republic of China remained the flagship in Asia (+ 10.3 per cent) stoking the economy with extensive government infrastructure programmes, among other things.

The upswing was much weaker in the industrialised countries. In the European Union, uncertainty in the banking sector and in financial markets, the rise in sovereign debt and high unemployment rates led to GDP growth of just 1.9 per cent. Compared to many other European economies, the Federal Republic of Germany was far less affected by the global recession (+ 4.1 per cent economic growth). The global economic upturn and growing demand for capital goods abroad was particularly welcome in the German economy, as the Annual Economic Report of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology underscores: ‘Last year, the German economy grew at a rate not seen since reunification.  [...] The impetus from the foreign trade sector has long since jumped over to investment and consumption. Domestic demand is increasingly becoming the driving force for growth. The upturn is thus now on firm footing and self-sustaining.’ Indeed, the trend in business for the Messer Group was also downright remarkable, and there was an increase in the Group's operating result, EBITDA, profit after tax and in the profitability of its investments.

Annual report 2010
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