Linde shares bounce on report Praxair deal inching closer

Linde Group logo (Reuters pic)

FRANKFURT: Shares in German industrial gases firm Linde leapt as much as 7% Wednesday, after reports it had offered new concessions to US authorities as it seeks a merger with competitor Praxair.

Munich-based Linde is now planning to offload “the bulk” of its North American business to Germany’s Messer Group and Luxembourg’s CVC Capital Partners, up from some US$3.3 billion of assets previously agreed, Bloomberg News reported citing documents from the two buyers.

By 1.30pm in Frankfurt (1130 GMT), Linde stock had fallen back from its peak, trading up 6.5% at 206.90 euros ($241.66) to top a DAX index of blue-chip German shares up 0.2% overall.

The proposed Linde-Praxair tie-up aims to create the world’s largest industrial gases firm with annual revenues of more than US$30 billion, overtaking Linde’s longtime French rival Air Liquide.

But while the European Commission has green-lighted the deal, the two firms were hit last month with unexpected demands from Washington to sell off more assets than they had hoped.

Linde has previously warned that any more concessions to competition authorities risk breaching a limit it agreed with Praxair on the value of activities executives were prepared to sell off to secure the merger.

The company declined to comment when contacted by AFP.