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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 March 2006, 11:41 GMT
BOC and Linde 'near to 8bn deal'
BOC gases truck
Foreign firms have been turning their attention to UK companies
UK industrial gases firm BOC is set to be bought by German rival Linde in a deal worth close to 8bn ($14bn; 11.7bn euros), newspaper reports have said.

Takeover speculation has been swirling around BOC since January when Linde tabled an offer of 15 a share that was rejected by BOC's board as too low.

A deal is now imminent after Linde raised its offer to 16 a share, The Sunday Times and Observer said.

BOC would be the latest in a number of UK firms taken over by foreign rivals.

Good fit?

UK glass manufacturer Pilkington agreed to be bought by Japan's Nippon Sheet Glass last month, and shipping and port company P&O is currently being taken over by Dubai Ports World.

At the same time, airport group BAA is being stalked by a foreign buyer.

While Linde is based in Germany, it employs about 60% of its 41,000 staff outside of the country and has UK sites in places including Basingstoke, West Bromwich, Aldershot and Merthyr Tydfil.

In addition to its gas division, the company also has a business that makes forklift trucks and warehouse equipment. It also is the largest builder of hydrogen production facilities in the world.

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

German newspapers reported last week that BOC and Linde were moving closer to a deal, and on Friday, Reuters quoted an unidentified person close to the talks who said that "they are approaching the home stretch".

The Sunday Times reported that Linde would need to borrow to finance the deal and as a result may have to sell its forklift division.

BOC shares surge on bid approach
24 Jan 06 |  Business

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