Air Liquide to Sell Robot Unit, Reorganize French Operation

Air Liquide SA (SU), the French maker of industrial gases, is in talks to sell a welding-robot unit to Groupe Gorge (GOE) and will unveil a reorganization of its domestic operations to unions tomorrow.

The robot unit, which is part of Air Liquide Welding France, has annual sales of about 7 million euros ($9.3 million) and employs 53 people, said Anne Bardot, vice president of group communications at Air Liquide. She declined to provide details of the reorganization at Air Liquide France Industrie ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with union representatives.

Chief Executive Officer Benoit Potier has said he will unveil a strategy this December to manage the challenges of Europe’s economic woes, growing industrial capacity in emerging markets, cheaper U.S. gas, and rising demand for health-care services and electronic goods such as tablets. In February, the group raised its savings target for the period from 2011 to 2015 by 30 percent to 1.3 billion euros.

The group’s net income declined to 752 million euros in the first half from 784 million euros a year earlier amid a 50-million euro restructuring charge linked to job cuts in Europe, the Paris-based company said on July 30.

Challenges magazine first reported the planned sale of the robot unit and reorganization at Air Liquide France Industrie. Air Liquide denied that the entire Welding France unit is being sold, as reported by the magazine.

To contact the reporter on this story: Francois de Beaupuy in Paris at fdebeaupuy@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Thiel at sthiel1@bloomberg.net

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