News story

Linde buys gas, sells forklift business?

Thursday, 26 January 2006 ( #244 ) - WIESBADEN, Germany
After months of speculation, Linde AG has confirmed that it has made an all-cash bid for British gas group BOC Group plc (Forkliftaction.com News #224).

Dow Jones International News reported BOC shares surged 21 per cent to GBP13.94 (USD24.91) after the UK company said it had rejected an unsolicited approach from Linde.

BOC said it had turned down the offer because it failed to value fully BOC's growth prospects. It did not say how much Linde had bid but that it was subject to several conditions.

In a later statement, Linde emphasised that its all-cash offer for BOC at GBP15 (USD26.81) a share was a friendly approach, noting that its gas & engineering arm and BOC complemented each other in terms of "products and regions".

An analyst said Linde's approach to BOC was a "decent strategic move" and the combination of the two companies could create the world's biggest industrial gases company.

"They would potentially be able to use Linde's cash flow in Germany to expand the industrial gas businesses in Asia, where BOC has a strong position," the analyst said.

Linde said in its statement that its banks were "highly confident" that financing for a possible acquisition could be arranged quickly.

Breaking News
A Financial Times Deutschland report says Linde AG may consider selling its forklift business to help finance a possible acquisition of BOC. The report cites unidentified sources involved with the takeover plans.

Chief Executive Officer Wolfgang Reitzle will seek potential buyers for the business if Linde's 7.54 billion pounds ($13.5 billion) offer, which BOC has rejected, goes through, the newspaper said. Linde Chief Financial Officer Peter Diesch is in talks with banks this week to discuss possible financing strategies, the FTD reported.

The report said Linde expects to fund 40 per cent of the acquisition with credit and the rest with the sale of new shares and its forklift business.
(source: Bloomberg.com)
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