Linde Chairman Wolfgang Reitzle has defended his plan for a $70 billion merger with U.S. rival Praxair , telling a German newspaper it was a good deal for workers and investors.
The German industrial gases group has faced unexpectedly strong opposition to the planned all-share merger of equals from trade unions who fear a dilution of their influence and large-scale job losses, as well as scepticism from some investors.
“The deal is extremely good for shareholders, and the employees get job guarantees for five years,” he told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung in an interview released on Friday ahead of publication on Saturday.
The merger, which promises $1 billion of synergies, would reunite a global company split by World War One a century ago and create a market leader to rival Air Liquide.
But Linde’s supervisory board, which has to approve the deal, is evenly split between worker representatives who oppose it and shareholder representatives who are in favour. Reitzle could use his casting vote to force it through if necessary.
“Of course I would prefer to avoid the casting vote,” Reitzle told the paper, adding he would continue to talk to labour representatives to try to win their consent. He had previously told the Financial Times he was prepared to use it.
The head of Linde’s works council, who sits on the supervisory board, was unimpressed.
“We see no change here,” Gernot Hahl told Reuters by telephone after reading the interview. “We are still opposed to the deal.”
Negotiations to hammer out a final business combination agreement between Linde and Praxair are taking longer than expected, a fact that Linde has put down to “legal complexity”.
The two companies had hoped to have a plan in place before Linde’s annual shareholder meeting on May 10.
A supervisory board meeting that had been scheduled to vote on the agreement last Wednesday was cancelled and no new meeting has yet been called.
By Edward Taylor and Georgina Prodhan
INEOS Styrolution, the global leader in styrenics, has today announced the official opening of a new world-scale ABS facility located in Ningbo, China, together with its joint venture partner SINOPEC. The facility has an annual nameplate capacity of 600,000 tonnes.
The merger of Röhm’s Acrylic Products business unit and SABIC’s Functional Forms business has resulted in the formation of Polyvantis. This new company will offer extruded products in the forms film, sheet, pipe and rod for markets that include building and construction, transportation and aviation, electrical and electronics, automotive and home and garden.
Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (Adnoc) is considering plans to acquire upstream oil and gas company Wintershall DEA, an affiliate of BASF SE, according to a Bloomberg report citing people with knowledge of the matter. A deal to acquire Wintershall DEA could be worth more than €10 billion, the report said. BASF and Adnoc declined to comment on the report.