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(Archived) Praxair Realigns Senior Management Structure

DANBURY, Conn., October 26, 2006 — Praxair, Inc. (NYSE: PX) has announced a reorganization of its senior management team, effective November 1, 2006.

The key changes, announced by Praxair's president and chief operating officer, Steve Angel, are:

  • Jim Sawyer, currently senior vice president and chief financial officer, has been promoted to executive vice president of the corporation and CFO. Sawyer will continue to manage all financial functions, including treasury and taxes, as well as information technology.
  • Ricardo Malfitano, executive vice president, has been assigned broader responsibilities. In addition to overseeing the South American region and Praxair Electronics, Malfitano will take on responsibility for the Asian region and the company's North American packaged gases business, Praxair Distribution. He will also continue to be responsible for global engineering and procurement.
  • Jim Fuchs, currently president of North American Industrial Gases (NAIG) and Praxair Canada, has been promoted to senior vice president of the corporation in addition to his current roles. He will also assume responsibility for Praxair Mexico.
  • Bob Vruggink, currently president of Praxair Surface Technologies, has been promoted to senior vice president of the corporation. He will be responsible for Praxair's healthcare and surface technologies businesses as well as its European region. He will also oversee Praxair's safety and environmental services group.
  • Mark Gruninger, currently vice president of NAIG's U.S. South Region, has been promoted to president of Praxair Surface Technologies, succeeding Vruggink.
  • Anne Roby, currently area director for NAIG's U.S. South region, has been promoted to vice president of the South Region, succeeding Gruninger. Roby's responsibilities will include overseeing Praxair's business operations and pipeline complex along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

"Each one of these executives brings to their new assignments strong leadership qualities and the demonstrated ability to deliver superior results," Angel said. "They also reflect the overall deep and talented global management team working at Praxair today."

Earlier this month, the company announced that Dennis Reilley, chairman and chief executive officer, will step down as CEO at the end of the year. He will remain chairman until his retirement on April 30, 2007. Angel will become CEO and president on January 1, 2007 and chairman on May 1, 2007.

Praxair is the largest industrial gases company in North and South America, and one of the largest worldwide, with 2005 sales of $7.7 billion. Praxair products, services and technology bring productivity and environmental benefits to a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, chemicals, food and beverage, electronics, energy, healthcare, manufacturing, metals and others. More information on Praxair is available on the Internet at

Biographies attached:

James S. Sawyer was appointed senior vice president and chief financial officer for Praxair in 2003. He is responsible for the company's finance, audit, treasury, accounting, tax, information technology and investor relations functions.

Sawyer joined the company in 1985 and became assistant treasurer the following year. In 1986, he was named manager of capital markets planning and three years later became area treasurer for Europe. He appointed assistant treasurer for Praxair in 1992, vice president and treasurer in 1994, and vice president and chief financial officer in 2000. Sawyer holds a bachelor of science degree in geology and environmental sciences from Wesleyan University, and a master's degree in business administration from the Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ricardo S. Malfitano was appointed executive vice president of Praxair in 2006, responsible for Praxair's businesses in South America and Mexico, as well as for Praxair Electronics, Praxair Surface Technologies, operational excellence and supply systems, procurement and safety and environmental services.

Malfitano joined White Martins, Praxair's Brazil-based subsidiary, in 1978 and held a variety of management positions in medical and industrial gases. He transferred to the U.S. in 1993 to lead a reengineering effort and in 1994 was named director of the global semiconductor materials business. Two years later, he returned to Brazil as executive director, Industrial Gases. Following another U.S. assignment as president, North American Industrial Gases, Malfitano was appointed chief executive officer of White Martins, and president, Praxair South America, in 2001. He became senior vice president of the corporation in 2003. Malfitano earned a degree in metallurgical engineering from Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro.

James J. Fuchs was appointed president of Praxair's North American Industrial Gases, Praxair's largest business unit, and president of Praxair Canada in 2001.

Fuchs joined the company in 1974 as technical sales representative in Toronto, Canada, and subsequently held a variety of assignments as product manager, area sales manager, business manager for oil field services, region manager for Western Canada and general sales manager. In 1988, he was appointed business manager for industrial gases. He became general manager, on-site business, in 1994 for the U.S. and was named managing director, Industrial Gases, Canada in 1995. He moved to Asia in 1996 as vice president, Praxair Asia, and was appointed president, Praxair Asia, in 1998. Fuchs earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Saskatchewan.

Robert S. Vruggink was named president of Praxair's subsidiary, Praxair Surface Technologies, in 2003, responsible for Praxair's global surface-coatings business Vruggink joined Praxair in 2001 as area director for industrial gases in the U.S. southern region. Prior to joining Praxair, Vruggink had served in a wide variety of engineering and management assignments for Conoco and DuPont, beginning in 1980. Vruggink holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.

Mark F. Gruninger was named vice president, U.S. South Region, for Praxair's North American Industrial Gases business unit in 2005. He was responsible for the growth and profitability of Praxair's business in a seven-state area which includes the company's largest pipeline complex.

Gruninger joined Praxair Surface Technologies in 1987 as a senior project engineer and led engineering and technology programs in advanced materials. He subsequently held positions as associate technology director, business manager for polishing products, and vice president, specialty products. In 2002, he was appointed vice president of Praxair Electronics, with global responsibility for products and services supplied to the semiconductor industry. Gruninger earned bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in ceramic engineering from Rutgers University. He also holds a master's degree in management from Purdue University.

Anne K. Roby was named area director, U.S. South Region, for Praxair's North American Industrial Gases business unit in 2004, responsible for commercial activities related to both pipeline and merchant atmospheric products. Roby joined Praxair in 1991 as a development associate in the company's R&D organization. She became global marketing manager, chemicals and refining, in 1996 and moved to Houston in 1999 to become a pipeline sales/business manager. Roby earned a bachelor's degree from Villanova University and a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware. She holds four patents for industrial gas applications.

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