German industrial gases group Linde and Praxair agree $65bn merger

Agreement follows Praxair assurances to Linde over jobs and governance in Germany

Linde and Praxair are struggling with slower growth in demand from   the manufacturing, metals and energy industries, already leading to consolidation in the industrial gases sector

Linde and Praxair are struggling with slower growth in demand from the manufacturing, metals and energy industries, already leading to consolidation in the industrial gases sector

 

German industrial gases group Linde and American suitor Praxair have agreed an outline for a $65 billion-plus merger, with the combined company to be run out of the US. The agreement, unveiled yesterday, comes after Praxair provided new assurances to Linde over jobs and corporate governance in Germany, sources have said. As part of the agreement on key aspects of the planned all-share merger, existing Linde and Praxair shareholders would each own about 50 per cent of the combined company.

The merged group will target $1 billion in cost savings, the two companies said in a joint statement, although some analysts said that figure looked overly optimistic. “The transaction would unite Linde’s long-held leadership in technology with Praxair’s efficient operating model,” the companies said.

Alongside rivals Air Liquide and Air Products and Chemicals Inc, Linde and Praxair are struggling with slower growth in demand from clients in the manufacturing, metals and energy industries. That has already led to consolidation in the industrial gases sector with Air Liquide buying Airgas for $13.4 billion.

Linde shareholders will receive 1.54 shares in the merged company for each of their shares, the two groups said. Praxair shareholders will get one share in the new holding company for each Praxair share. The new entity, representing a combined $30 billion in 2015 revenues before antitrust sell-offs, will have a dual listing in New York and Frankfurt.

Praxair’s previous approach for Linde failed in September partly because of disagreements over where to locate key activities and who would run the business. The two sides have now agreed that Praxair chairman and chief executive Steve Angel will become chief executive, based at Praxair’s current headquarters in Connecticut. Linde’s supervisory board chairman Wolfgang Reitzle will take the role of chairman of the new group.

The company will be domiciled outside Germany in a member state of the European Economic Area – which comprises the European Union as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Germany’s powerful IG Metall union has said it would support the merger after workers were given assurances such as maintaining Linde’s two biggest sites in Germany. – (Reuters)