The on-again, off-again merger talks between German industrial gases group Linde AG and Danbury, CT-based gases & welding distributor Praxair Inc. were finally settled last month when the companies agreed to unite in a $70 billion deal.
A few days later, the companies entered into a definitive business combination agreement to come together under a new holding company through an all-stock merger of equals transaction. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2018.
Those milestones followed plenty of hemming and hawing from both companies, whose decision to join forces will create the largest gases distributor in the world.
This was the second blockbuster merger in the gases distribution space of late. The Praxair-Linde deal surpasses Air Liquide's $10.3 billion acquisition of Airgas Inc., which closed a year ago and created a company with annual sales around $23 billion.
In other big M&A news from May, Ferguson Enterprises, Newport News, VA, agreed to sell its fastener division, Endries International Inc., Brillion, WI, to the private equity firm Nautic Partners LLC.
While Endries has "consistently contributed to the financial health of Ferguson since the 2005 acquisition ... the OEM fastener business is not a core business for Ferguson," a spokesperson for the company said in an email to MDM. "The sale and new ownership structure allows the team to stay focused on their core business and positions Endries for future growth and opportunity."
Aside from those two transactions, May was relatively quiet for M&A in distribution. But the slow month could be the calm before the storm. Based on analyst comments in our recent article, 2017 State of M&A in Distribution: ‘Never Been a Better Time to Sell’, look for activity to pick up during the rest of the 2017.
Here are other key deals that occurred in May 2017: