Linde in merger talks with Praxair
GERMAN industrial gas supplier Linde has confirmed reports that it was “in preliminary discussions about a possible merger” with its US competitor Praxair.
“Discussions are taking place and have yet to lead to any concrete result or agreement,” Linde said in a brief statement after reports that talks had started over a potential tie-up.
“At present it is unforeseeable whether there will be a transaction,” Linde added.
Linde shares soared 11 percent at one point in Frankfurt trading. In New York Praxair stock was up more than 5pc in early deals.
A potential merger between the two companies would create a giant that would overtake French group Air Liquide as the world’s number one supplier of industrial gas.
But it would also slash the number of large players on the world industrial gas market to three, with some risk of challenges from competition authorities in the United States or the European Union.
Air Liquide took the top spot from Linde by sealing a deal at the end of May for the acquisition of US firm Airgas, which should take its annual revenues to more than 20 billion euros (US$22.4 billion).
But Linde and Praxair combined would have estimated annual revenues of more than $30 billion – robbing Air Liquide of the top spot once again.
The two firms have discussed selling off some assets to allay antitrust regulators’ fears, Bloomberg News reported, citing sources familiar with the talks.
Linde employs 64,000 people worldwide, while Connecticut-based Praxair has 26,000 staff. –
German industrial gas maker Linde employs 64,000 people worldwide.