The obstacles to a merger of the German industrial gas group Linde with the American competitor Praxair to become the world's largest supplier of oxygen and helium are increasing. The competition authorities demanded the sale of parts of the company with a turnover of more than EUR 3.7 billion, Linde reported in Munich on Wednesday. That was crystallized in further discussions. The 3.7 billion is the pain threshold above which Linde and Praxair have the right to cancel the merger of more than 70 billion euros. "Linde and Praxair continue their constructive discussions and discuss with the competition authorities how their requirements can be met."
Industry experts doubt that one of the two partners will pull the cords if the threshold is exceeded by a few hundred million euros. Even then, the hopeful savings of about one billion euros could still be realized. Apparently, only the pain threshold in sales, the second threshold of 1.1 billion euros operating profit, which is lost with the sale, did not exceed.
"It would surprise me if both partners did nothing to complete the deal," said fund manager Arne Rautenberg of Union Investment Tuesday to Reuters. Especially for Linde & # 39; s Supervisory Board, chairman Wolfgang Reitzle, much depends on this. "The deal is also very attractive for Praxair."
Keep the time pressure for problem experts. Before the merger you have to go to the German Stock Corporation Law until October 24th. Linde and Praxair should quickly find buyers for the parts of the company, which they have to split on behalf of the competition guards. That should also drive up the price that can be achieved for that. Already agreed is the sale of the European activities of Praxair, which goes for five billion euros to the Japanese Taiyo Nippon Sanso, as well as large parts of the American business of Linde, which the German Messer Group together with the financial investor CVC wants to buy. Sales amounted to approximately 2.7 billion euros in sales and 700 million in operating profit. The American antitrust authority FTC had already indicated that it was not enough as a concession.
Which authorities have expressed the new concerns is not clear from the Linde communication. The European Commission approved the transaction on Monday, subject to certain conditions. But the green light of a handful of other antitrust officials is still around the world.