Linde intends to disburse a dividend of EUR 7 per share prior to the planned merger with Praxair. The plan is to resolve the dividend disbursement at the General Meeting on 3 May. The scale of the dividend is made up as follows: a disbursement of EUR 3.90 per share for business year 2017 and an additional EUR 3.10 per share factored in to reflect the three quarters of business year 2018 through to the planned merger with Praxair. This step takes into account the fact that Praxair makes dividend payments on a quarterly basis and will pay a dividend for each of the three quarters through to the proposed merger date. Linde therefore seeks to “offset the difference between the two dividend payment date regimes.”
The EU Commission kicked off an in-depth assessment of the merger on 16 February 2018. The background: reservations about impaired competition in the market for various gases, as the number of suppliers will be reduced further by the merger, which could spell higher prices and less choice. The process is set to be concluded by 4 July 2018. Linde had anticipated this step and had beforehand already communicated that an in-depth assessment process could result in higher requirements having to be met. The Linde/Praxair merger is supposed to be completed in the second-half 2018. Any higher requirements being imposed by the EU competition authorities are unlikely to impact the industrial logic underpinning the merger. In the final instance, with the merger Germany loses a global player, which is clearly not positive for the country as an industrial hub.