2018 was a tremendously successful and dynamic year for Linde India and indeed TheLinde Group. We reached a new milestone in our Company's legacy the legal closing of thehistoric merger between the holding company of your company Linde AG and Praxair Inc. toform Linde pic.
As a part of the approval process from various regulators across the globe theCompetition Commission of India (CCI) also granted its approval to the proposed businesscombination between Linde AG and Praxair Inc. subject to the divestment of certainassets of Linde India. Your Company has appointed an independent financial advisor toassist in the divestment of the assets through a rigorous and transparent process toderive the best possible value for these assets subject to final approval from theshareholders. The process for divestment is currently underway.
Your Company is currently evaluating potential future integration plans for realisingthe synergies between Linde India and Praxair India. We are considering the variouspotential options and their impact towards achieving this goal and we will communicatefurther developments in the coming months.
I am delighted to report that Linde India's Gases and Project Engineering Division(PED) recorded satisfactory growth in its overall revenues in 2018. The positive momentumin the steel and automobile industries has continued to deliver healthy growth for yourCompany's underlying gases business; while robust growth in revenue of PED was driven bythe commercialisation of air separation and nitrogen plants commissioned in the steel andrefinery sectors. PED has also benefited from the support from Linde Engineering and hadorders valued at over Rs.6000 million as at 31 December 2018. While the operating profitfor the year stood at Rs.3490.09 million the profit after taxes after exceptional itemsfor the year under review amounted to Rs.471.70 million. The net profit for the year atRs.334.86 million also compares well with the previous year.
Your Company continues to leverage application technology and has secured new businessin a number of "firsts" in various industries. I am pleased to report that wehave won our first major customer in the refinery sector to enhance sulphur recovery withLinde's oxygen enrichment application; a key customer has invested in our Instant Quickfreezing application cryogenic freezing with liquid nitrogen and we have acquired ourfirst nitrogen application for tyre curing.
Looking ahead we will continue to build on our tradition of success at Linde India.Our success is anchored on a strong foundation of integrity one of the core values ofLinde. Your Company remains focused on driving profitable growth safely improvingoperational efficiency and operating ethically at all times to increase profit margins.
You would have taken note of my decision to retire from the Board of Linde India. Thishas been a difficult decision for me but in consideration of my broadenedresponsibilities it is the right one. It has been my privilege to serve on the Board ofLinde India and as its Chairman. I would like to thank my colleagues on the Board fortheir wise counsel and support and you our shareholders for your encouragement andplacing your trust in Linde India. Rest assured that our mission to Make the World MoreProductive will continue to generate sustainable profitable returns you expect from ourCompany.
15 April 2019.