Linde-Praxair Merger One Step Closer After Agreement Reached

Industrial gas giants Linde and Praxair edged closer to their long-sought merger this week, although significant hurdles still remain.

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Industrial gas giants Linde and Praxair edged closer to their long-sought merger this week, although significant hurdles still remain.

Reuters reports that the companies reached an agreement on the details of the merger, which would see the combined companies surpass Air Liquide to become the world's largest supplier of industrial gas.

Under the tentative agreement, the companies would be combined in an all-stock transaction into a new holding company headquartered in Ireland, a common destination for multinational companies seeking lower tax bills.

The company itself would operate out of Praxair's Danbury, Conn., headquarters. Praxair CEO Steve Angel would serve as chief executive of the new company, while Wolfgang Reitzle, chairman of Linde's supervisory board, would serve as its chairman.

The proposal must clear Praxair's board of directors, but the bigger obstacle appears to be Linde's board.

The Linde supervisory board is divided evenly between representatives of stockholders and workers, and its labor representatives are adamantly opposed to moving the company's headquarters outside Germany.

Should the board split between those two factions, Reitzle previously indicated that he would reluctantly cast a tie-breaking vote. A vote is reportedly set to take place next week.

Previous efforts to merge the two companies fizzled in 2016 due to structural disagreements and likely pressure from antitrust regulators.

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