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German union opposition to Praxair-Linde merger resurfaces

March 3, 2017
Chemical Value Chain

German worker opposition to Linde’s planned merger with Praxair has resurfaced after trade union IG Metall learned of a message from Praxair’s chief executive promising to run the company in the style of more profitable Praxair.

The German and U.S. industrial-gases groups are working to finalize terms of a merger that would create a $30 billion market leader and target $1 billion in synergies.

Praxair has provided new assurances to Linde over jobs and corporate governance in Germany after a previous attempt to agree a merger foundered over those issues.

But members of the works council have now demanded that labor representatives on Linde’s supervisory board should oppose the deal, and an IG Metall spokesman said the agreement on jobs did not resolve all issues.

“The agreement doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine from now on,” he said. “We are still critical.”

Labor representatives could block the deal if they were to win the support of any other board members.

Praxair CEO Steve Angel assured his employees in a video message in January that the U.S. company, which is almost twice as profitable as Linde, would be in charge.

“We are going to take the operational lead in this entity, and that is very important, from my standpoint, to make sure that the business can be run the way it needs to be run so we can realize all of the potential of this merger,” he said.

A transcript of the video has since been filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

By Jens Hack

Source: Reuters

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