• Industrial gas supplier may announce deal as soon as next week
  • Health-care firm may fetch several hundred million euros

Linde AG, the world’s largest industrial gas supplier, is in talks to buy respiratory health-care specialist American HomePatient from investment firm Highland Capital Management, according to people familiar with the discussions.

A deal could be announced as early as next week, said the people, who asked not to be identified because talks are private. The transaction may value Brentwood, Tennessee-based American HomePatient at several hundred millions of euros, one of the people said. Highland Capital acquired the company in 2010 after building up its stake in the maker of medical gases over several years. No final decision has been made and talks may still fall apart, they said.

Representatives for Linde and Highland Capital declined to comment. German magazine WirtschaftsWoche reported earlier this week that Linde is in advanced talks to buy an American supplier of medical gases, without identifying the company.

Linde already has a significant position in the U.S. homecare market following its $3.8 billion acquisition in 2012 of Lincare Holdings Inc., which also provides medical gases to patients at home, doubling its North American gas sales. The Munich-based company is seeking to grow its health-care operations to benefit from an aging population. Linde’s main business has traditionally been providing gases such as oxygen and nitrogen for metal working and other industrial processes.

American HomePatient supplies home medical products to more than 1 million patients from about 250 locations across the U.S., according to its website. Highland, which has about $21 billion in assets under management, was able to take control of the company after agreeing to restructure its debt.

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