September 19, 2018 / 9:44 AM / a month ago

Linde, Praxair close to selling more assets to save merger: source

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Industrial gases group Linde (LIN1.DE) is set to sell additional assets to a consortium of Messer Group GmbH and CVC Capital Partners for about $200 million, moving closer to U.S. antitrust approval for the planned merger with Praxair (PX.N), a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Another Linde facility in La Porte, Texas is set to be sold at a later stage, but the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) agreed to give the merger partners more time for this transaction, the person said.

FILE PHOTO: Praxair Chief Executive Officer Steve Angel (R) poses with Linde Chief Executive Officer Aldo Belloni before a news conference in Munich, Germany June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/File Photo

The news was earlier reported by Bloomberg.

Shares in Linde jumped 6.85 percent to 207.50 euros by 1108 GMT.

Linde declined to comment on the news while officials at Messer were not immediately available for comment. CVC also declined to comment.

To allay antitrust concerns, the merger partners in July lined up the Messer-CVC consortium as buyers of North and South American assets for $3.3 billion. Praxair’s European gases business will be sold to Japanese rival Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corp (4091.T).

Linde, however, later warned that regulators’ demands had become more stringent and divestments were expected to reach a level that would allow either party to abandon the deal, although talks continued with both Praxair and regulators.

Linde and U.S.-based Praxair agreed the $83 billion all-share merger in principle in December 2016, aiming to create a global leader in gas distribution ahead of France’s Air Liquide (AIRP.PA), which had also bulked up with the takeover of rival Airgas.

The additional U.S. operations to be sold include three air-separation plants, a liquid-argon contract, a carbon dioxide facility and two depots, Bloomberg cited people with knowledge of the situation as saying.

Reporting by Alexander Huebner; Writing by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Maria Sheahan, Sabine Wollrab and Thomas Seythal/Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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