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EU: Linde-Praxair US$80b deal gets conditional approval

 |  August 20, 2018

On Monday, August 20, EU antitrust regulators approved Linde’s planned US$80 billion merger with US rival Praxair after the companies agreed to sell Praxair’s European assets to a Japanese rival together with other concessions, reported The Financial Times.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, said on Monday, “Gases—like oxygen and helium—are crucial inputs for a large variety of products we need and use in our everyday life. For instance, industrial oxygen is used in large quantities in the production of steel. And hospitals need medical oxygen for patients and helium so that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners can work. There are very few companies in the world capable of supplying all these gases. With this decision, we make sure that the merger of Praxair and Linde will not result in further concentration in Europe and that customers will continue to benefit from competition in these markets.”

After the EU’s decision, Linde and Praxair still have one major hurdle in their quest for regulatory approvals. The companies were caught off guard earlier this month by a notice from the US Federal Trade Commission to sell more assets in order to gain antitrust approval even after they had agreed to roughly US$9 billion worth of disposals in Europe and North America.

The Linde-Praxair pledge allows Taiyo Nippon Sanso to gain a foothold in Europe after the merging companies agreed last month to sell several industrial-gas plants to the Japanese firm to answer EU concerns about reduced rivalry in the industrial-gases market. Linde is also considering the sale of additional assets in the US that would mark a near-complete retreat from industrial gas operations in the country.

Full Content: Financial Times

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