Praxair in talks to buy its German rival Linde

Praxair Inc, the lasrgest industrial gas supplier in the US, is in talks to buy its German rival Linde AG, The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported, citing, a person familiar with the matter.

A successful deal would create the world's largest industrial-gas supplier with a market cap of more than $60 billion and annual sales of $26.4 billion.

The news comes amid a consolidation in an industry hit by declining energy prices and sluggish economic growth the report said.

In December 2015, Linde agreed to buy respiratory health-care specialist American HomePatient Inc. in order to expand a medical-gas business in the US, and in May, France's Air Liquide SA acquired Airgas Inc. for about $10 billion, while in April, Praxair, acquired five small industrial gas businesses, which had combined 2015 annual sales of more $40 million.

Founded in 1879 in Munich, Germany by professor Doctor Carl von Linde, Linde became the world's largest industrial gas company by market share as well as revenue after it acquired its UK based rival the BOC Group in 2006 for $13.9 billion.

Linde also designs and builds large-scale chemical plants for the production of industrial gases including oxygen, nitrogen, argon, hydrogen and carbon monoxide, as well as large plants for processing LPG and the manufacture of olefins.

The company, which is listed on all the German stock exchanges and also in Zürich, has over 600 affiliated companies in more than 100 countries, with customers in the industrial, retail, trade, science, research and public sectors.

It holds 22 per cent of the world's market share in industrial gases followed by Air Liquide with 21 per cent, Praxair with 13 per cent, Air Products & Chemicals with 10 per cent, Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation with 4 per cent, and Messer Group with 1 per cent.

Connecticut-based Praxair is the largest industrial gases company in North and South America, and the third-largest worldwide by revenue.

It was the first company un North America to commercialise seperated oxygen, and the first to introduce the distribution system for liquid gas in 1917.

But a merger between the two giants would attract scrutiny from regulators in North America and the European Union.