Linde and Praxair get EU approval for $82bn deal

Onerous US demands include more asset sales, possibly exceeding agreed threshold

The Linde/Praxair deal would put the merged entity ahead of French competitor Air Liquide in gas distribution. Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

The Linde/Praxair deal would put the merged entity ahead of French competitor Air Liquide in gas distribution. Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

 

German industrial gases group Linde and US rival Praxair secured conditional EU antitrust approval on Monday for their $82 billion merger but still have to clear a major hurdle with US enforcers.

The deal, announced in June last year, would put the merged entity ahead of French competitor Air Liquide in gas distribution. The companies’ industrial gases such as oxygen and helium are used in hospitals, MRI scanners and steel production.

The European Commission said the companies’ pledge to sell assets to reinforce a Japanese rival in Europe and other concessions addressed its concerns that the deal may lead to price hikes and hurt competition.

Transfer

The EU watchdog said Praxair will sell its entire gas business in the 28-country bloc, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. It will also transfer its stake in an Italian joint venture in central and eastern Europe to partner Flow Fin.

The companies will also sell additional helium sourcing contracts to one or more buyers.

The companies however are facing more onerous demands from the US Federal Trade Commission, which wants more asset sales, possibly exceeding the companies’ agreed threshold, and wants the buyers to meet certain requirements. – Reuters