Following approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Airgas has announced it has completed the acquisition of the U.S. bulk gas business of Linde AG.

The acquisition includes eight air separation units and related bulk gas business, with about 300 employees. Airgas paid $495m for the business that generated $176m in revenues in 2006. The acquired business has been renamed Airgas Merchant Gases, LLC.

From its Ohio headquarters, Airgas Merchant Gases will manage production, distribution, and administrative functions for air separation plants nationwide. About 34 sales and service employees have also joined the respective Airgas regional companies for local service.

$quot;We welcome the Linde associates and customers to Airgas,$quot; said Airgas chairman and chief executive officer Peter McCausland. $quot;The combination of these bulk gas assets and people with our existing bulk gas business...will strengthen our gas supply chain nationwide and improve our ability to efficiently serve bulk gas customers.$quot;