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[FRANKFURT] German industrial gases maker Linde and US competitor Praxair are set to announce a US$65 billion merger to create a global leader in the sector in the coming days, the Financial Times reported Monday.
Linde and Praxair's previous attempt at a tie-up failed in September, but they are now expected to reveal preliminary merger terms "as early as Wednesday," people familiar with the talks told the FT.
The German firm said just two weeks ago that it was back at the table with Praxair.
A Linde spokesman refused to comment on "speculation" when contacted by AFP.
Combined, the two groups would overtake Linde's historic French rival, Air Liquide, as the global number one industrial gas supplier, with combined annual revenues of more than US$30 billion.
Praxair chief executive Steve Angel will be CEO of the combined firm, while Linde chairman Wolfgang Reitzle will retain that role, the sources told the FT.
The new company will be based in Connecticut but have its tax domicile in Europe.
Executive personnel and the site of the merged group's headquarters were vexed questions that helped scupper the deal the first time around, a source familiar with the discussions told AFP at the time.
Linde will also likely agree for its engineering unit - which builds industrial plants for other firms - to be spun off as part of the deal, the sources said.
Listing the engineering unit separately could calm fears of job losses among German worker representatives at Linde.
Changes in Linde's executive board since September - including the departure of chief financial officer Georg Denoke, reportedly an opponent of the merger - are also likely to smooth the path towards the tie-up.