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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 January 2006, 18:34 GMT
BOC shares surge on bid approach
BOC gases truck
BOC has two million customers in more than 50 countries
Shares in UK industrial gases firm BOC have jumped by more than 21% after the company said it had rejected a bid approach from German rival Linde.

BOC said it had turned down a preliminary approach from Linde because the offer failed to "value fully the growth prospects of BOC".

BOC did not say how much Linde had bid, but added that any offer was subject to a number of conditions.

BOC employs 30,000 people and has two million customers in 50 countries.

Independent future?

Speculation has risen in recent months that BOC could become a bid target.

But in a statement, BOC said that its directors were confident in the firm's ability to deliver growth as an independent company.

BOC's shares were up 243p, or 21.11%, at 1394p by the close of trade on the London Stock Exchange.

Linde employs about 41,000 workers worldwide and is the largest builder of hydrogen production facilities in the world.

In addition to its gas division, the company also has a business which makes forklift trucks and warehouse equipment.

BOC said the approach would be subject to conditions, including financing and the completion of due diligence.

Worldwide customers

"The board of BOC has met together with its advisers and unanimously rejected the proposal because of its pre-conditions and its failure to value fully the growth prospects of BOC," it said.

BOC said it was confident in its current strategy to deliver growth and returns to shareholders as an independent company.

The BOC Group, based in Guildford in Surrey, serves two million customers in more than 50 countries, and employs some 44,500 people worldwide.

Linde employs about 60% of its 41,000 staff outside Germany, with UK sites including Basingstoke, West Bromwich, Aldershot and Merthyr Tydfil, and is the largest builder of hydrogen production facilities in the world.

As well as its gas and engineering business, the firm has a division making forklift trucks, electric trucks and warehouse equipment.

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