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Mergers & Acquisitions

Linde-Praxair merger finally gets green light

U.S. Federal Trade Commission to allow deal pending further divestments

by Michael McCoy
October 24, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 43

A photo of a Praxair industrial gas plant in Asia.
Credit: Praxair
This Praxair industrial gas plant in Asia will become part of the merged company.

More than 16 months after it was first proposed, the merger of the industrial gas firms Linde and Praxair has won the blessing of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. The deal is now set to close on Oct. 31.

But FTC has imposed yet more divestitures on the two companies on top of earlier asset disposals demanded by the European Commission.

Linde and Praxair are the world’s number two and three industrial gas firms by size after Air Liquide, and the merger will make them number one, with about $27 billion in annual sales. From the start, regulators were concerned about the impact of the deal on buyers of everything from bulk oxygen and nitrogen to specialties such as helium and excimer laser gases.

To satisfy the EC, the firms agreed to sell most of Linde’s bulk gas business in North America and some Linde and Praxair assets in South America to a partnership of the German gas firm Messer and CVC Capital Partners. The companies also agreed to sell Praxair’s European industrial gas business to Taiyo Nippon Sanso.

FTC now wants the firms to sell several H2/CO plants. Five Linde plants outside the Gulf Coast region will go to Matheson Tri-Gas, part of Taiyo Nippon Sanso. Linde’s Clear Lake, Texas, plant will go to Celanese and its La Porte, Texas, plant to LyondellBasell Industries. Both firms use the mixture for chemical production.

One of five FTC commissioners voting on the agreement dissented, saying he would have liked to see restrictions placed on the ability of Messer and CVC to subsequently divest assets.


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