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Linde, Praxair need to sell a few India assets for global merger

Industrial gases firms Munich-based Linde AG and Connecticut-headquartered Praxair, Inc. have won anti-monopoly approval to merge on the condition that both sell certain assets in the country.

The anti-monopoly body, called Competition Commission of India, has directed Linde India to sell its entire stake in Bellary Oxygen Company Pvt. Ltd, a joint venture with Inox Air Products Limited. Linde has also been asked to sell a plant at Bellary in Karnataka and two cylinder-filling stations in Hyderabad and Chennai.

Praxair has been asked to sell its three plants at Jamshedpur and two cylinder-filling stations at Asansol and Kolkata.

In order to move closer to US anti-monopoly approval for the planned merger, Linde is set to sell additional assets to a consortium of Messer Group GmbH and CVC Capital Partners for about $200 million, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Linde will also sell another facility in La Porte, Texas at a later stage, and the US Federal Trade Commission has agreed to give this deal more time, the person said.

To soften US monopoly concerns, Linde and Praxair in July had roped in the Messer-CVC consortium as buyers of North and South American assets for $3.3 billion. Praxair will sell its European gases business to Japanese rival Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corp.

Linde is primarily active in industrial gases, medical gases, speciality gases and related engineering and services sectors.

Praxair is into manufacturing of industrial gases, medical gases and speciality gases. It also has a surface technologies business that supplies high-performance surface coatings and equipment.

The conditional nod for the planned $45 billion global merger is not the first such. In 2015, the anti-monopoly body gave a conditional approval to the proposed $44 billion merger of France's Lafarge SA and Swiss peer Holcim, which would create the world's largest cement company by manufacturing capacity and sales. 

The approval came with the condition that Lafarge sell its two plants in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. These two units together had a yearly capacity of 5.15 million tonnes.

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