Leaking revenues

Rivals' Merger Threatens Gas Giant Linde

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Linde helped to build Europe's largest natural gas liquefaction plant, near Hammerfest in Norway.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Linde is suffering not only from the dowturn in the world economy and falling oil prices, but also from increased competition because of a merger of two major rivals.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Linde supplies gases and engineering services, such as oxygen for use in hospitals and the building of chemical plants.
    • The company had sales of €18 billion in 2015, but has issued two profit warning in 13 months, sending share prices plummeting.
    • French rival Air Liquide will soon take over U.S. firm Airgas, creating a gas supplier bigger than Linde.
  • Audio

    Audio

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When analysts speak of “lack of credibility” and “crisis of confidence,” it signals rough times for a company’s management, even at Germany’s well-regarded Linde Group.

The Munich-based firm, a world leader supplier of industrial gases and engineering services, had been a darling among investors. Its long-term delivery contracts for gas products, used in industry and health care, promised both stability and rising revenues.

But last November, its chief executive, Wolfgang Büchele, ignited an investor firestorm when he issued the company’s second profit warning in 13 months. Linde’s stock, which is listed on the DAX blue-chip index of leading German companies, plunged more than at any time in the past 14 years.

“Everyone was shocked,” said Heiko Feber, an analyst at Bankhaus Lampe, a private bank.

The situation at Linde hasn’t improved since – in fact, it might be worse. “During the fourth quarter, there was quite a ruckus in company management,” a source familiar with the situation told Handelsblatt.

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