Singaporean fund GIC takes minority stake in German gas specialist Messer

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By Emma-Victoria Farr

FRANKFURT, May 30 (Reuters) -German industrial gases company Messer said on Tuesday that Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC has invested a minority stake in the business as part of a strategic partnership.

The proceeds from the investment will help Messer take full control of its Messer Industries joint venture, financing the acquisition of shares from previous minority shareholder CVC Capital Partners.

Messer will become the sole owner of Messer Industries, bringing all its activities under one roof. Messer posted sales of 4.16 billion euros ($4.58 billion) with core earnings of 1.17 billion euros in the past financial year.

The joint venture included the majority of Linde's former gases business in North America as well as the business activities of Linde and Praxair in South America, which both groups had to sell in the course of their merger. It generated 2.59 billion euros ($2.85 billion) turnover in the past financial year, with core earnings of 749 million euros.

"The global market for industrial gases is ... a durable industry and will see new opportunities from the green transition in the long term," said Henry Ormond, deputy head of private equity in Europe at GIC.

CVC's exit will be completed by the end of this year. Both this transaction and GIC's investment are subject to regulatory approvals.

"Messer will grow ... in the coming years, both organically and through targeted acquisitions - and thus, as the world's largest privately held industrial gases specialist, become the number one dynamic challenger to the industry's big three," Messer CEO Bernd Eulitz said.

Bloomberg on Tuesday first reported Messer was nearing a stake sale to GIC, valuing the German company at more than 12 billion euros ($13.21 billion) including debt.

($1 = 0.9084 euros)

Reporting by Emma-Victoria Farr; editing by Paul Simao


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