Prax­air ‘held’ merger talks with Linde


Prax­air Inc and Ger­many’s Linde AG have held merger talks to cre­ate what would be the world’s largest sup­plier of in­dus­trial gases, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.

The deal could be valued at more than $30 bil­lion if it’s struc­tured as an ac­qui­si­tion. The two com­pa­nies have dis­cussed a pos­si­ble com­bi­na­tion, though the sta­tus of the talks isn’t clear, one of the peo­ple said, ask­ing not to be iden­ti­fied as the ne­go­ti­a­tions are pri­vate.

Prax­air, which sup­plies gases such as oxy­gen, ni­tro­gen and car­bon diox­ide, has a mar­ket value of $33.7 bil­lion. Linde, a gases and en­gi­neer­ing com­pany, was valued at 25.9 bil­lion eu­ros ($29 bil­lion).

A po­ten­tial tie-up be­tween Prax­air and Linde would fur­ther fuel a wave of con­sol­i­da­tion in the in­dus­try and at­tract sig­nif­i­cant scru­tiny from an­titrust reg­u­la­tors, said Ja­son Miner, an an­a­lyst at Bloomberg In­tel­li­gence. France’s Air Liq­uide SA, which counts re­finer­ies, soda bot­tlers and welders among its cus­tomers, com­pleted its big­gest pur­chase in May when it bought Air­gas Inc of the United States for $13 bil­lion. That left only four ma­jor sup­pli­ers, in­clud­ing Prax­air, Linde and Air Prod­ucts and Chem­i­cals Inc.

“The an­titrust ob­sta­cles are as clear as the eco­nomic logic is clear,” Miner added.

“You’d cre­ate much more ad­van­tage for the larger bid­der but that would also sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce com­pe­ti­tion.”

A spokesman for Linde de­clined to com­ment on the re­ported talks. A Prax­air rep­re­sen­ta­tive wasn’t im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment out­side nor­mal busi­ness hours.

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