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Business

Gas giant Linde approaches takeover of Lincare

German industrial gas giant, Linde, has received the bulk of shares needed to gain full control of the US medical company Lincare. The German giant has tried for years to diversify its portfolio to spread market risks.

German industrial gas company Linde received nearly 84 percent of shares in Lincare in its bid to take over the US medical care company for $4.6 billion (3.7 billion euros. Lincare is the world's number one in the out-of-hospital treatment of respiratory ailments and produces special oxygen gas mixtures for patients.

Linde's public offer to buy all outstanding shares for $41.50 apiece expired at midnight on Tuesday and will not be extended. Linde reported on Wednesday it had received commitments for a further 9.39 million shares or a stake of 10.73 percent, making further acquisition procedures look like a mere formality.

Based in Clearwater in the US state of Florida, Lincare currently employs some 11,000 people. In 2011, it logged a net profit of $177 million on revenues of $1.8 billion.

Venturing out to pastures new

With its takeover bid, Linde outpaced one of its major rivals on the European market, Air Liquide of France, which had also shown interest in Lincare.

The German industrial gas giant emphasized that the health care market was becoming an important source of diversification for large gas producers looking to reduce their dependency on traditional fields of operation.

Earlier this year, Linde had already taken over US competitor Air Products for 590 million euros. Doing business in the medical gas sector is considered to be highly lucrative, with profit margins by far exceeding those in the conventional industrial field.

hg/   (AFP, dapd)