Linde AG has announced an offer to acquire all the shares in privately-held Ceylon Oxygen Limited in Sri Lanka, and the acceptance of the offer by the major shareholder, Europium Limited, in respect of 95.4% of the shares in Ceylon Oxygen.

What does all this mean? The offer, which has become unconditional, will close on 12th November 2010.

After which, Linde intends to acquire the outstanding minority shares held by shareholders who have not accepted the offer under relevant Sri Lankan legislation to give it 100% ownership of Ceylon Oxygen.

Established in 1936, Ceylon Oxygen Limited is headquartered in Colombo, and is the leading medical and industrial gases player in Sri Lanka. It is the only company that owns and operates an air separation plant in the country.

$quot;The Linde Group is a global leader in gases and engineering, and Asia is a key growth market for the group. The investment in Ceylon Oxygen will expand Linde’s footprint in emerging markets in Asia, and provides the opportunity for us to tap into and participate in the long-term growth prospects in Sri Lanka,$quot; said Sanjiv Lamba, Regional Business Unit Head for Linde South & East Asia.

$quot;Working with Ceylon Oxygen’s experienced management team, we intend to build on and strengthen the company’s solid market position.$quot;

Niran Pieris, CEO of Ceylon Oxygen Limited, said, $quot;We are very proud of our association with Actis – especially for their belief in our management team and their commitment to the long-term growth of Ceylon Oxygen. Today is the start of an exciting future for Ceylon Oxygen.$quot;

$quot;As a member of The Linde Group, we will be able to leverage on Linde’s innovations built over 130 years, technological expertise and strong market position in South & East Asia to accelerate our expansion plans and serve an even wider set of customers.”

Ceylon Oxygen Limited employs approximately 160 staff and has two manufacturing sites in Sapugaskande and Colombo, as well as four depots in Galle, Ratnapura, Kurunegala and Anuradhapura. It produces liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen at its Sapugaskande air separation unit, and its facility in Colombo houses a liquid carbon dioxide plant, a dry ice plant, a dissolved acetylene plant and a nitrous oxide plant.