The Indian subsidiary of Munich, Germany based industrial gas producer Linde AG, Linde India, is planning to increase its share in the medical gas sector by acquiring small medical gas suppliers to hospitals in India. The shaky recovery of the steel sector, Linde’s biggest customer is causing the company to diversify into other areas. Srikumar Menon, MD, South Asia, Linde says, “Acquisitions are something we are looking at. There will be consolidation in the market (of suppliers of medical gases) as there are about 150 small players and 5-10 regional players. We are not looking at all the 150-odd mom-and-pop players; we would look selectively for opportunities in acquiring small units.”
By setting up large dedicated air separation plants, gases are supplied to steel makers. However, significant quantities of compressed gases are also sold to smaller industrial units and
hospitals in cylinders. Linde is currently working on tactics to break through into the healthcare units in smaller cities in the region. Newly appointed MD of Linde India, Moloy Banerjee said, “Healthcare is clearly a focus area for us. We expect the cylinder business to grow stronger, thanks to our focus. We are clearly looking at tier II cities in healthcare as growth of hospitals in the bigger cities has more or less saturated. He added, “This requires us to expand our cylinder manufacturing footprint and work on plans like setting up micro-plants and taking up medical gas management on behalf of hospital authorities.”
Other sectors such as solar energy, and their specialized electronic gases, have been explored but Linde has not been able to become the preferred supplier in the area. Menon said, “Our parent Linde AG has been focusing on some of the megatrends like renewable energy. But here in India, the solar energy industry hasn’t lived up to its initial promise as manufacturing dropping significantly. We had significant plans and were supporting some of the large investments, but they didn’t materialize. Once the investments revive, we would be there, but for now, it appears the Indian market is not going to come back in the near future.”
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