At the start of December Praxair announced that it had moved to revive merger talks with Linde which broke down in September over a lack of ‘mutual understanding’.
On the 7th of December, when Linde had already affirmed that talks were to resume, CEO Dr. Büchele resigned his mandate with immediate effect. The Executive Supervisory Board moved swiftly to appoint Prof. Dr. Aldo Belloni to succeed him as CEO.
Belloni has 34 years of experience at The Linde Group, 14 of which were spent on the Linde Executive Board, and Chairman Professor Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle was confident that the returning CEO’s experience and expertise would help to shape the next chapter of the company’s history.
It would seem that this next chapter involves a unison with Praxair, as it has today been confirmed that Praxair, Inc. and The Linde Group have agreed upon a non-binding term sheet governing the essential terms of a merger of equals between the two companies.
”Under the Linde brand, we want to combine our companies’ business and technology capabilities and form a global industrial gas leader”
CEO, Prof. Dr. Aldo BellonI
Here’s what the two companies had to say about a respective merger.
Dr. Belloni commented, “Under the Linde brand, we want to combine our companies’ business and technology capabilities and form a global industrial gas leader. Beyond the strategic fit, the compelling, value-creating combination would achieve a robust balance sheet and cash flow and generate financial flexibility to invest in our future.”
Steve Angel, Praxair’s Chairman and CEO, concurred, “The strategic combination between Linde and Praxair would leverage the complementary strengths of each across a larger global footprint and create a more resilient portfolio with increased exposure to long-term macro growth trends.”
“We consider this to be a true strategic merger, as it brings together the capabilities, talented people and best-in-class processes of both companies, creating a unique and compelling opportunity for all of our stakeholders,” Angel added.
Though both parties caution there is no assurance that a binding definitive agreement on the combination will be reached, Praxair notes in its statement that the two companies ‘expect to execute a definitive Business Combination Agreement as soon as practicable’.
If the transaction is completed Praxair’s current CEO Steve Angel will be the spearhead of the organisation. Linde’s Supervisory Board Chairman, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle, would become Chairman of the new company’s Board.
With his reaction to the news, gas world’s Senior Business Analyst James Barr explained, “This merger will create the largest gases company that has ever existed to date. The coming together of these two companies will also produce a very strong and well positioned entity, that has considerable experience in production, supply and engineering in all regions around the world.”
“However, many anti-trust authorities will now be looking deeply into the two company’s operations, specifically in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Substantial divestment packages will inevitably be required in some markets to avoid any potential monopolies – and this in turn will provide opportunities for other gas companies to acquire assets, or even the opportunity for new gas companies to form.”