Air Products & Chemicals didn’t think it was a prime target for terrorists.
But on Friday the company confirmed that a car crashed into a factory that is owned by the company near Lyon, France, and caused an explosion. Two people were injured. A decapitated body and severed head were found at the scene of the attack.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of life and want to express our sympathies to the family of the victim of this unspeakable tragedy,” the company said in a statement. The company did not say whether the people injured or the person killed were employees of the company, but Air Products did say that all of its employees had been evacuated and were accounted for.
Air Products is a Fortune 500 company that ranked 284th on this year’s list. The company sells specialty gas and chemical products to a range of companies in the energy, electronics, and manufacturing industries. The company is based in Allentown, Penn. It employs 21,050 people, and has operations in 50 countries around the world.
The company provides nitrogen for fracking fluids, and it has been a beneficiary of the boom in oil exploration. But revenue only rose 2% last year, and profits were flat. The company slipped slightly in the Fortune 500 rankings from a year ago. It is one of roughly 120 Fortune 500 companies that still offers a defined benefit pension plan, and it has consistently raised its dividend in each of the past 25 years.
The company’s biggest shareholder is shareholder activist hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who owns almost 10% of the company.
In late 2006, the Council on Foreign Relations highlighted chemical factories as a target for terrorist attacks. Back in 2002, a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report found very little security at dozens of chemical plans around the U.S. But the fact that no one appears to have been directly killed in the attack on Air Products could signal that precautions had been put in place.