Linde, Praxair Offload Assets to Prepare for $45 Billion Merger

(Bloomberg) -- Linde AG and Praxair Inc. are inching closer to U.S. antitrust approval for their $45 billion merger as a consortium of Messer Group GmbH and CVC Capital Partners is set to buy additional assets to allay antitrust concerns, people familiar with the matter said.

CVC and German industrial-gas supplier Messer overnight updated the presentation for their debt roadshow, according to documents seen by Bloomberg News. Marketing for meetings in London on Wednesday now includes an extra three air-separation plants, a liquid-argon contract, a carbon dioxide facility and two depots, said the people. The assets generate about $20 million in earnings, and could be valued at about $200 million, they added.

Representatives of Linde, Praxair and Messer declined to comment. A representative for CVC wasn’t immediately available.

The push to win over the Federal Trade Commission means the enlarged group will now forgo the bulk of Linde’s North American industrial-gas operation that it spent decades building. Munich-based Linde and Danbury, Connecticut-based Praxair were caught off guard when the U.S. demanded they sell more assets, having already agreed to sell a $3.3 billion package of facilities to CVC and Messer. The extra requirements threaten to breach a limit set in place by the merger partners to cap the value of assets sold, Linde has said.

Although no official decision has been made, CVC and Messer received positive signals from the FTC for buying additional assets at a meeting Tuesday, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

Linde jumped 6.8 percent to 207.30 euros in Frankfurt at 1:51 p.m. after earlier rising as much as 7.7 percent on optimism the merger partners will meet an Oct. 24 deadline by finalizing disposals and winning a green light from the U.S.

A facility in La Porte, Texas isn’t part of the package, although Linde and Praxair may be given more time to find a home for the asset and remain confident of reaching a solution around the time the wider merger closes, said the people.

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