Praxair Is Said Near $6 Billion Europe Asset Sale to Taiyo

(Bloomberg) -- Praxair Inc. is nearing a deal to sell European assets valued at about 5 billion euros ($6 billion) to Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corp. as part of a plan to gain approval for a tie up with Germany’s Linde AG, according to people familiar with the matter.

The divestment, which hasn’t been finalized, could be announced as early as Thursday, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions aren’t public. Talks are ongoing and could still be delayed or fall apart. The sale to the rival Japanese industrial gas supplier could go some way in soothing antitrust concerns in Europe, where regulators are carrying out an in-depth review of the $45 billion combination with Linde.

Representatives for Praxair and Taiyo couldn’t be reached outside of regular business hours, while a representative for Linde declined to comment.

Taiyo shares fell 0.1 percent to 1,507 yen as of 9:21 a.m. in Tokyo Thursday, compared with a 0.2 percent decline for the benchmark Topix Index.

Separately, Linde hasn’t yet reached a decision on an acquirer for U.S. assets that are also slated for sale, said a person familiar with that process. Carlyle Group LP, along with a consortium of CVC Capital partners and privately held German industrial gas maker Messer Group GmbH, are pursuing the assets, people have previously said.

The biggest hurdle facing the U.S. and German industrial gas giants in their quest to combine is obtaining the green light from the European Commission, which is set to make a decision by an Aug. 9 deadline that can be extended. Linde and Praxair have a self-imposed Oct. 24 limit for getting all regulatory approvals.

The gas suppliers have also set a cap on the size of the assets they could dispose, namely businesses with a combined 3.7 billion euros in revenue or 1.1 billion euros in earnings before interest, depreciation or amortization. Praxair’s European assets generated Ebitda of about 400 million euros, one of the people said.

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