UPDATE 6-Gas suppliers Praxair, Linde hold merger talks
* Linde says talks are ongoing, no agreement so far
* Deal would create No.1 player with value above $60 billion
* Linde wants merger of equals - sources
* Shares in Linde, Praxair jump (Adds Praxair statement, updates shares)
By Mike Stone and Jens Hack
NEW YORK/MUNICH, Aug 16 (Reuters) - U.S. industrial gas supplier Praxair Inc and German peer Linde AG said on Tuesday they were in early-stage talks about a merger to create a market leader with a value of more than $60 billion, sending their shares higher.
An agreement would accelerate consolidation sweeping the industrial gas sector where slower economic growth has weakened demand in the manufacturing, metals and energy sectors and put pressure on smaller players to compete.
A combination of Praxair and Linde, which supply gases such as nitrogen, argon and carbon dioxide, would face scrutiny from regulators after other major deals, such as U.S. oilfield services provider Halliburton Co's $34.6 billion acquisition of Baker Hughes Inc, were shot down due to antitrust concerns.
Linde has a strong position in healthcare in North America, where it supplies gases to hospitals and patients with respiratory disorders. Continued...