Air Products & Chemicals Inc., of Allentown, has more than 750 factories in 50 countries. One of its factories, in a town near Lyon, France, was in the global spotlight Friday after an attacker rammed a vehicle into a warehouse on the property, causing an explosion, and leaving behind a severed head on the factory entrance gate.

"I am horrified and saddened by the attack on our facility in France. I believe I speak for all of our Air Products family around the world in expressing our deepest sympathies to the family of the victim of this unspeakable act," CEO Seifi Ghasemi said in a statement.

The company also said security at its facilities worldwide had been increased.

In a 2015 ranking of countries by risk of terrorism and political violence by Aon Risk Solutions, a global risk-management advisory firm, France ranked in the middle on a scale from "negligible" to "severe." All other Western European nations had low risk, according to Aon. Air Products has operations in six nations with a high-risk rating from Aon - Algeria, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Israel, and Thailand - but none in the countries deemed most risky.

The company's industrial gases factory in St-Quentin-Fallavier, in southeastern France, employs 25. It was unclear how much damage was done to the facility, built in 1996, the company said. All employees were evacuated safely, Air Products said; the decapitated victim was not an employee.

Air Products said it employs more than 400 people in France, where it has operated since 1979, and 21,600 worldwide, including 3,600 in the Lehigh Valley.

The company, founded in 1940 in Detroit, is among the world's largest producers of industrial gasses, such as hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Major markets for its products include energy, chemicals, electronics, and other manufacturing sectors.

Oil refineries around the world rely on hydrogen produced by Air Products to make gasoline and other fuels. Air Products also has been trying for years to build the market for hydrogen-powered cars, trucks, buses, scooters, and forklifts.

Last year it ranked No. 276 on Fortune's list of the 500 largest U.S. companies, with $10.4 billion in global sales. The company reported $992 million in net income in the 12 months ending Sept. 30.

It also has a specialty chemicals division; its products include curing agents for epoxies, polyurethane additives, and surfactants, which are used to help ink spread evenly, for example.

An equipment division, with a plant in Wilkes-Barre, makes heat exchangers used to produce liquefied natural gas around the world.

Air Products was the target of billionaire activist investor William Ackman in 2013. That campaign led to the replacement of chief executive John E. McGlade, a company veteran who started at the company immediately after graduating from Lehigh University in 1976. Ghasemi replaced McGlade last July. On Friday, shares in Air Products closed down 75 cents to $142.08 a share on the New York Stock Exchange.


This article contains information from the Associated Press.