Linde to Sell $3.3 Billion of Assets to Win Merger Backing

(Bloomberg) -- Linde AG announced the sale of North American businesses for $3.3 billion to win approval for its merger with U.S. rival Praxair Inc., bringing disposals to more than $9 billion with a hint of more to come.

The assets being offloaded had sales last year of about $1.7 billion and include most of Linde’s U.S. bulk business and its operations in Brazil, Canada and Colombia. The deal is contingent on Linde and Danbury, Connecticut-based Praxair completing their $47 billion tieup.

German gas maker Messer Group GmbH and buyout firm CVC Capital Partners are the acquirers, Munich-based Linde said Monday in a statement.

The sale is a further step toward overcoming regulatory hurdles blocking the gas supplying giants’ planned merger after an agreement this month to sell Praxair’s industrial-gas plants in Europe to Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corp. for 5 billion euros ($5.8 billion). The merger partners have an Oct. 24 deadline to complete the combination, and say more assets may need to be offloaded to get final approval.

Linde shares rose 0.3 percent to 216.60 euros at 2:09 p.m. in Frankfurt. The company said last week it was in advanced talks for the sale.

The U.S. and German giants still need to win a green light from the European Commission, which is set to make a decision in August. The body had warned in February that the merger would cut down the major gas providers in Europe to just three, and that the combined Linde-Praxair would have the power to increase prices and coordinate supply with the two remaining rivals.

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