Industrial Gases Linde Chair Ready to Push Through Praxair Merger

Wolfgang Reitzle, chair of German gases giant Linde, said he is prepared to face down worker opposition to a planned merger with Praxair by using his casting vote if the board is split.
Quelle: dpa
Linde chairman Wolfgang Reitzle told the Financial Times he is prepared to use his casting vote to break any deadlock.
(Source: dpa)

Wolfgang Reitzle, the powerful chairman of German industrial gases group Linde, has said he will use his casting vote to push through a $65 billion (€61 billion) merger with U.S. rival Praxair, if worker representatives attempt to block the deal.

Linde, like most large German companies, has an influential works council that controls half the seats on the company’s non-executive or supervisory board, which will have to approve the deal once terms are finalized in the coming weeks.

The supervisory board is due to meet Thursday in what promises to be a lively meeting. It is not expected to vote on the deal until May 3.

Gernot Hahl, chair of the Linde works council, told Reuters last week that the works council plans to vote  against the deal, which they fear will lead to job losses.

Mr. Reitzle told the Financial Times Monday he is prepared to use his casting vote to break any deadlock. Mr. Reitzle had an 11-year stint as Linde chief executive and is seen as the driving force behind the company's past success.

He stepped down as chief executive in 2014 but returned to the company two years later as chairman after his then-successor Wolfgang Büchele issued two profit warnings in a row.

Mr. Büchele quit in December after an earlier set of merger talks with Praxair collapsed and a former Linde executive, Aldo Ernesto Belloni, stepped in as chief executive.

If this merger goes through, Praxair chief executive Steve Angel will head up the enlarged group.


Meera Selva is an editor at Handelsblatt Global Edition. Contact the author: [email protected]