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Afrox - Media Release

Release Date: 31/01/2002 14:20:07      Code(s): AFX
31 JANUARY 2002
African Oxygen Limited (Afrox) has realised very satisfactory sales for the
first quarter of the financial year, despite a continuing lack lustre
economy. Afrox's recently appointed chairman, John Walsh, told this to
shareholders at the company's 74TH annual general meeting today.
"At the same time, the company expects that its full year results for the
period ended September 2002, will show increases in revenue, profits and
headline earnings," said John Walsh.
Walsh also reminded shareholders that this year marks the 75th anniversary
of Afrox, as the company was formed in April 1927. "A number of unique
community involvement projects will form part of the Afrox celebrations to
mark this important achievement. It is one of a handful of South African
listed companies to achieve the status of 75 years old and still going
strong. We are justifiably proud of this achievement and excited by our
future growth opportunities," said Walsh who is also a director of Afrox's
parent company, The BOC Group, plc.
Rich Hogben, who is Afrox's new managing director said, "For the first
quarter of this financial year, both the industrial gases and welding
business achieved strong organic growth as did our listed healthcare
subsidiary, Afrox Healthcare Limited."
"This financial year industrial business has experienced a considerable
improvement in liquefied petroleum gas (Handigas) trading conditions.  In
addition export sales of welding products, mainly to South East Asian
countries, is showing higher than expected volumes.  These profits are
helped by the decline in the rand against the US dollar."
Hogben said that the new and niche products were notable contributions to
the increase in sales, and we marketing initiatives launched last financial
year are showing encouraging returns.
The company has a sound balance sheet, with gearing at 27 percent.  Afrox
Healthcare's gearing stands at 6,1 percent.
"Our healthcare subsidiary should be finalising shortly the acquisition of
the 700 bed, four hospital Amahosp group, in KwaZulu-Natal.  This
acquisition will strengthen our presence in the province of KwaZulu-Natal
and we should realise meaningful synergy benefits."
"Afrox Healthcare is also looking to acquire majority holdings in individual
hospitals where we have a stake. We are reviewing options to increase our
equity in a number of these hospitals, and negotiations are under way with
several shareholder groups."
"On the 18th of this month, Real Africa took up its options for a further
9,4 percent in our listed healthcare subsidiary, Afrox Healthcare Limited."
"We welcome the increased involvement of Real Africa and view this as an
important strategic alliance, which will help further develop our healthcare
business, especially in our planning to provide affordable healthcare to a
broader sector of the population."
"This raised Real Africa's stake in AHealth to 14,8 percent. Real Africa
holds a further option for 2,2 percent which may be exercised before 2
December 2002."
"We expect that Afrox will show sound growth for the full year and that the
company will continue to increase its revenue and profits,"says Hogben.
Issued by African Oxygen Limited
For further information - Chris Fieldgate (011)490 0554 or cell 082 495 1481

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