Praxair Distribution, Inc. has acquired the packaged gas business and facilities of Constar LLC of Norcross, Georgia and its affiliates Airstar Carolina, Airstar Tennessee, Airstar Savannah and Pye-Barker Welding Supply Co.

This business includes 10 facilities in Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina with revenues of approx. $34 million. The transaction closed on December 31, 2005. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Constar LLC operates several retail stores for the sale of welding and related equipment, supplies and services.

'Praxair\\$quot;s expansion into this new geography further strengthens our ability to serve customers throughout North America,' said Praxair Distribution President Wayne Yakich.'Constar has built a strong business in this region and its employees are a very welcome addition to the Praxair team. We also look forward to providing our new Praxair customers with a more comprehensive array of packaged gases, welding equipment and supplies to improve their overall business efficiencies and to reduce their costs with our technical support programs,' Yakich said.

The new company will operate as Praxair Distribution\\$quot;s Southern Division. Steve Byers, formerly Central California Division general manager has been named the new Southern Division general manager.

'Steve is one of Praxair Distribution\\$quot;s experienced leaders, with a proven track record of profitably developing new markets and products in Central California,' said Yakich. 'I expect him to build on the strong foundation of great customer service that Constar has created.' Yakich said Praxair\\$quot;s acquisition of Constar complements other, smaller acquisitions that were made over the past year.