Linde Shares Rise on Reports Praxair CEO Is Still Open to Merger

  • German industrial gases producer gains to three-week high
  • No ‘irreconcilable differences,’ analyst cites CEO as saying

Linde AG shares rose in Frankfurt on analyst comments that Praxair Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Angel is still open to a merger of the two industrial gas producers even after talks collapsed earlier this month.

The stock gained as much as 5.4 percent and traded 3.8 percent higher at 148.40 euros as of 12:49 p.m. local time, the highest since Sept. 9. At a breakfast for analysts hosted by Angel on Wednesday, the CEO said he didn’t see insurmountable differences between the two companies, according to Jeremy Redenius at Bernstein.

“The discussions are off and it remains to be seen if they re-engage,” Redenius said in a note to clients. “Praxair thinks Linde needed to sort out some internal issues before continuing. They don’t see irreconcilable differences as they didn’t get that far in the negotiations.”

A spokesman for Linde declined to comment. Praxair spokespeople weren’t available to comment when Bloomberg called outside office hours.

Linde and Danbury, Connecticut-based Praxair abandoned merger talks over sticking points including potential job losses in Munich, where Linde is based, people familiar with the matter said at the time. The two companies had been in discussions since mid-August about a tie-up that would have been the biggest deal so far in a wave of consolidation triggered by French rival Air Liquide SA’s takeover this year of Airgas Inc. for $13 billion including debt.

Praxair insists the combined business’s headquarters would have to remain in the U.S, Redenius said in the note. He cited Angel as saying that “mergers don’t work if leadership is not clear." Praxair also “seems to be in line for CEO and CFO roles,” while Linde would get the chairmanship, the analyst said.

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