Linde AG and Praxair, Inc. announced that the companies intend to combine in a merger of equals under a new holding company through an all-stock transaction. The companies have signed a non-binding term sheet and expect to execute a definitive Business Combination Agreement as soon as practicable. Based on 2015 reported results, the combination would create a company with pro forma revenues of approximately $30 billion (EUR 28 billion), prior to any divestitures, and a current market value in excess of $65 billion (EUR 61 billion).
The proposed merger would bring together two leading companies in the global industrial gas industry, leveraging the proven strengths of each. The transaction would unite Linde’s long-held leadership in technology with Praxair’s efficient operating model, creating a global leader. The combined company would enjoy strong positions in all key geographies and end markets and create a more diverse and balanced global portfolio. Additionally, it would enable the development and delivery of more innovative products and services to customers.
"The strategic combination between Linde and Praxair would leverage the complementary strengths of each across a larger global footprint and create a more resilient portfolio with increased exposure to long-term macro growth trends," said Steve Angel, Praxair’s Chairman and CEO. "We consider this to be a true strategic merger, as it brings together the capabilities, talented people and best-in-class processes of both companies, creating a unique and compelling opportunity for all of our stakeholders."
"Under the Linde brand, we want to combine our companies’ business and technology capabilities and form a global industrial gas leader. Beyond the strategic fit, the compelling, value-creating combination would achieve a robust balance sheet and cash flow and generate financial flexibility to invest in our future," said Professor Dr. Aldo Belloni, CEO of Linde.
Value Creation from the Combination
The merged company would create significant value for shareholders through the realization of approximately $1 billion (EUR 0.9 billion) in annual synergies, driven by scale benefits, cost savings and efficiency improvements.
Governance and Leadership
The combined company would be governed by a single Board of Directors with equal representation from Linde and Praxair. Linde’s Supervisory Board Chairman, Professor Dr. Wolfgang Reitzle, would become Chairman of the new company’s Board. Praxair’s Chairman and CEO, Steve Angel, would become CEO and a member of the Board of Directors.
The combined company would adopt the globally-recognized Linde name and be listed on both the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (Prime Standard segment). The new company will seek inclusion in the S&P 500 and DAX indices.
The new holding company would be formed and domiciled in a neutral member state of the European Economic Area ("EEA"), with the CEO based in Danbury, Connecticut USA. Corporate functions would be appropriately split between Danbury, Connecticut and Munich, Germany to help achieve efficiencies for the combined company.
Proposed Merger Structure
Under the proposed terms of the transaction, Linde shareholders would receive 1.540 shares in the new holding company for each Linde share exchanged in the German offer, and Praxair shareholders would receive one share in the new holding company for each Praxair share. As a result, current Linde and Praxair shareholders would each own approximately 50% of the combined company, assuming a 100% share exchange in the German offer.
Next Steps and Timing
The parties expect to complete their internal approvals and execute the definitive Business Combination Agreement in the coming months. Execution of a definitive Business Combination Agreement remains subject to confirmatory due diligence, further negotiations and Board approvals of both Linde and Praxair. There is no assurance that a binding definitive agreement will be reached between the parties, and the consummation of any binding transaction will be subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. Linde and Praxair are confident that any required regulatory approvals, including any required divestitures, could be obtained in a timely manner following the execution of a definitive Business Combination Agreement.
Perella Weinberg Partners and Morgan Stanley are acting as financial advisors and Hengeler Mueller, Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and Linklaters LLP (regulatory) are serving as legal counsel to Linde. Credit Suisse is acting as exclusive financial advisor and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP is serving as legal counsel to Praxair.