The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has opened a 30-day public comment period for Praxair, Inc. and Linde AG to divest a hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide gas plant to Celanese Ltd.

The application proposes that Celanese Ltd will acquire Linde’s hydrogen gas and carbon monoxide gas plant in Clear Lake, Texas, as part of the divestitures needed for the Linde-Praxair $90bn merger to be completed. 

The FTC will decide whether to approve the application after a 30-day public comment period, which expires on 21st December.

Praxair and Linde have agreed to divest the required facilities within four months of signing the Agreement Containing Consent Orders in October. They cannot integrate their operations until the divestitures to Messer and Matheson are done.

The FTC voted 4-1 in favour of the megamerger, which creates the largest industrial gas company in the world, with Commissioner Rohit Chopra voting against.

Praxair and Linde have been asked to divest certain industrial gases assets to settle charges that the merger would violate federal antitrust law and be anti-competitive.

In the Gulf Coast region, industrial gas companies need their hydrogen-carbon monoxide (HyCO) plants near hydrogen pipelines to be viable competitors. Linde has only a small pipeline in the Gulf Coast region, and it is only able to compete in on-site hydrogen and carbon monoxide supply in a relatively small area at Clear Lake, near Houston.

Outside the Gulf Coast region, Linde is a strong competitor in on-site hydrogen supply, as is its rival Tier One company Air Liquide.

The proposed merger would reduce the number of significant suppliers of HyCO in the US from four to three.