Linde resumes merger talks with Praxair, CEO resigns

Wed Dec 7, 2016 3:13pm EST
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By Ludwig Burger, Greg Roumeliotis and Arno Schuetze

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's Linde agreed to revive talks with U.S. rival Praxair to create a $65 billion industrial gases giant which will have its main operations run from Connecticut, two sources familiar with the deal said on Wednesday.

The deal is being pursued as a "merger of equals" thanks to a 50:50 valuation split, these people said.

But a combined company will have its operating base in Danbury, Connecticut, where Praxair is headquartered and Praxair's Chief Executive Steve Angel will head the merged company, these sources said on Wednesday, after Linde confirmed it would resume talks.

In a largely symbolic gesture, Linde will be the name of the combined company, and Wolfgang Reitzle, Linde's chairman would also be chairman of the combined firm, the sources said.

A "meaningful" representation would be retained in Germany, these people said, adding that the primary listing would be in New York and the secondary listing in Frankfurt.

Talks broke down in September amid disagreements over where the combined firm would have its headquarters and research and development, as well as over who would occupy the main management roles, sources told Reuters at the time.

On Wednesday Linde's chief executive Wolfgang Buechele paved the way to a revived deal by stepping down with immediate effect. "With the resumption of the talks, a successful merger is now drawing near," Buechele said in a statement.

Buechele will be replaced by Aldo Ernesto Belloni, a 66-year-old former executive board member who retired two years ago.   Continued...

Linde Group logo is seen at a company building in Munich-Pullach, Germany August 16, 2016. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle/File Photo