Linde has signed a merger agreement with Lincare Holdings Inc., a US-based homecare health company, at a planned acquisition value of around US$4.6bn.

Linde intends to acquire all outstanding shares of Florida-based Lincare Holdings Inc. by submitting a cash offer to the company’s shareholders of $41.50 per common share, followed by a merger.

The news comes just two months after Linde Healthcare completed the acquisition of Air Products’ Continental-European homecare business, at an enterprise value of €590m.

It also comes ahead of gasworld’s upcoming Homecare Services-themed August issue, and appears to be a clear indication of the group’s determination to build a foothold in the rapidly growing homecare market.

Closing of the offer for Lincare Holdings is expected for the third quarter of fiscal year 2012, with completion of the offer and merger subject to the receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.

The funding of the transaction will be done by an acquisition loan in the total amount of $4.5bn and through available cash. The acquisition loan will be refinanced by debt and equity issuances, Linde declared in a statement.

The tender offer described has not yet commenced, and this material is neither an offer to purchase nor a solicitation of an offer to sell shares of Lincare Holdings Inc. common stock. At the time the tender offer is commenced, Linde will file a tender offer statement with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the SEC).