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US regulators require Linde, Praxair to divest holdings to allow massive merger
[WASHINGTON] US regulators on Monday gave the go-ahead for US Praxair Inc and German Linde AG to create the world's largest industrial gas supplier, but will require them to divest nine business units.
The US Federal Trade Commission said the US$80 billion merger of the world's second and third largest supplier of oxygen, helium, carbon dioxide and other gases, would hinder competition.
But the merger will win approval provided Linde divests Messer Group GmbH and Matheson Tri-Gas Inc, including numerous North American facilities, the FTC said in a statement.
"Praxair and Linde have agreed to divest the required facilities within four months of signing the Agreement Containing Consent Orders," the FTC said.
"Until the divestitures to Messer and Matheson are accomplished, Linde and Praxair are prohibited from integrating their operations anywhere in the world."
The decision was made in coordination with antitrust agencies in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the European Union, Korea, and Mexico.
Munich-based Linde said the sell-offs will be completed by Jan 29.
"Following the antitrust approval from the FTC and the buyer-approval in respect of the sale of the majority of the European gases business of Praxair to the Japanese industrial gases manufacturer Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation, which was provided earlier today, all conditions for the completion of the business combination are satisfied," the company said in a statement.
Linde's merger with its US rival Praxair would create the world's largest industrial gases firm, with annual revenues of more than US$30 billion, overtaking France's Air Liquide.
Major regulators have already given the all-share merger the go-ahead, including those from the European Commission, China and South Korea.
FTC approval came just in time as the clock was ticking on the deal since German law requires that all clearances need to be in by October 24, or the merger will fall through.