The merger of Praxair and Linde may have nudged a step closer in the last week after two further antitrust developments.

Firstly, the deal has now received unconditional antitrust approval in Mexico, satisfying another closing condition and adding to clearances already received in Russia (unconditional), Canada and Brazil, among others.

Secondly, and perhaps most significantly, it’s reported in the business press that Praxair and Linde have offered concessions in a bid to address EU competition concerns and secure antitrust approval in the region.

It comes after the EU reportedly provided both companies with a confidential statement of objections (SO) in recent weeks, the content or terms of which were not disclosed.

EU concerns reportedly sent to Praxair-Linde

No party in the matter gave any official line on the SO, while the European Commission (EC) declined to comment when contacted by gasworld.

No terms of the reported concessions are known either, but the very news of any proposals represents another step forward for the deal, with both parties clearly keen to find a way through to completion.

An SO was almost inevitable in a deal of this scale. In issuing one, the EC did not outlaw the deal but instead put revised terms or parameters into the hands of Linde plc, under which it will be happy to sanction the transaction.

The question over the last few weeks had been whether Praxair and Linde would take that forward to the finish line and come up with the necessary concessions for assets to be divested.

Praxair-Linde: A marathon, not a sprint

Clearly, both parties were content to work with the parameters put forward by the EC and have now made their counter proposals.

The EU has disclosed that it has extended its deadline for a decision to 24th August (2018).

gasworld understands a similar scenario could yet play out in the North American market, with the verdict of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) still pending.