Praxair Inc. is reportedly in merger talks with Linde AG in another potentially significant development for the $80bn industrial gases industry.
Both parties have confirmed that preliminary discussions had commenced, with Praxair cautioning, “These discussions are ongoing and there can be no assurance that they will result in a transaction, or on what terms any transaction may occur.”
A statement from Linde reinforced, “Accordingly it is currently not foreseeable whether there will be any kind of transaction. Should these talks be successfully continued, Linde will inform the capital market and the public in accordance with statutory requirements.”
Any successful advances between the two companies could represent the latest chapter in a game-changing year of merger and acquisitions (M&A) activity for the global gases business.
The ink is only just dry on Air Liquide’s $13.4bn acquisition of Airgas, which became official as of 23rd May and comfortably created the largest industrial gas company in the world.
Any merger between Linde and Praxair could further shift the landscape in the industry; were it to be given the green light, gasworld Business Intelligence estimates that the combined corporation would hold a global market share of 33%, pre-divestment.
James Barr, Senior Business Analyst, commented, “The merger is possible but it would be complicated. In particular, the US would present one of the largest hurdles for the deal to happen, particularly on an onsite level but also across some regions in the merchant gases business.”
Any deal would be subject to anti-trust regulations, of which Barr added, “The largest anti-trust pressure would come in the US – where the merger’s combined market share would exceed Air Liquide’s current market share of 28% by eight percentage points, assuming that no divestments were necessary. However, it is probable that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will have regional issues across the US, which could result in some significant revenues being divested.”
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