In 2015, the European market was valued at €16.7bn ($18.6bn). Growth has been relatively flat in most Western European markets, whereas their Eastern European counterparts have fared slightly better.
Linde are currently the second largest company in Europe, behind current market leaders Air Liquide. However, should the Praxair and Linde merger go ahead it would lead to a new market leader not only globally, but also within the European region.
One of the key issues of a potential merger between Praxair and Linde would be the current operations both companies hold in Northern Europe and Scandinavia. Praxair recently acquired Yara’s European carbon dioxide (CO2) which, if combined with Linde’s current CO2 operations, is likely to create an entity too large to be left unnoticed by anti-trust authorities. This could lead to a number of divestments in the countries such as Sweden and Norway, where Linde currently hold commanding market leadership positions.
Some of the largest European markets are also likely to be effected. In Germany, the combined Praxair/Linde company would hold a market share of almost 50%, prior to any divestment. Therefore, a divestment package including a tempting portfolio of air separation units and CO2 plants may soon be for sale in Germany.
Another region that could be scrutinised in more detail by anti-trust authorities is Iberia, as Praxair and Linde currently hold reasonable market shares in both Spain and Portugal. However, if the companies were to combine the create a new entity, this new company would hold a market share of under 40% in both countries. This may be deemed acceptable by the anti-trust authorities, but some divestments in the region should not be ruled out.