The Linde Group is the international industrial gases and engineering company founded in 1879. The registered company name is Linde AG (). Linde shares are traded on all the German stock exchanges and also in Zürich with the symbol LIN, and the Linde share price is included in the DAX 30 index. The group is headquartered in Munich, Germany, with some supporting headquarters functions in Surrey, England.
The Linde Group underwent a significant transformation in September 2006, following the acquisition of UK based competitor The BOC Group. The merger and subsequent disposal of non-gas interests recast the group as the world's largest pure-play industrial gases supplier. Linde's former materials handling business was rebranded as KION Group in September 2006 and sold in November 2006 to KKR and Goldman Sachs for €4bn. In March 2007 the BOC Edwards semiconductor equipment business was sold to CCMP Capital for €685m.
Linde's sales in 2006 - a year of significant acquisitions and disposals - were €12.4 billion, with 55,000 employees.
Following the BOC acquisition, The Linde Group has become the world's largest industrial gas company. In 2005, Linde AG and BOC together had 21% of the world's market in industrial gases followed by Air Liquide with 19%, Praxair with 13%, Air Products & Chemicals with 10%, Nippon Sanso with 4%, Airgas with 3% and Messer Group with 1%.
The Linde Group today has two principal business areas : gas, divided in industrial gas and medical gases, and engineering. In the industrial gas area the group trades under a number of established brand names including Linde, AGA, BOC, Afrox and PanGas. In the medical gas area Linde is known with the following names, Linde Gas Therapeutics, AGA Medical, INO Therapeutics, Linde Homecare, Farmadomo and Life Gas
On 21 June 1879, Professor Doctor Carl von Linde founded the Gesellschaft für Linde’s Eismaschinen Aktiengesellschaft to develop further his work in developing mechanical refrigeration systems for the brewing and food industries. Following success in this market, he moved on to developing lower temperature systems resulting in 1895 in a patent covering the liquefaction of air. Out of this work his company developed equipment for the separation of air and other gases. One of the first large-scale air separation plants was installed in Höllriegelskreuth, near Munich in 1903.
In addition to plants air separation, in 1906 Linde engineers started working with other on processes to separate the constituents of water gas. This work developed into capabilities in the manufacture of Hydrogen and Carbon Monoxide, which were further key feedstocks for the emerging chemicals industry.
In addition to his interests in refrigeration, Carl von Linde had also partnered with Hugo Güldner and others in 1904 to form the Güldner Motoren-Gesellschaft mbH in Aschaffenburg. Linde took full ownership of the company in 1929, and from this origin developed a business manufacturing first engines and tractors, and then from the 1950's onwards, a range of mechanical handling equipment such as fork lift trucks.
Linde has had a complex history of takeovers, mergers and divestments, and in 2000 completed the acquisition of Aktiebolag Gasaccumulator AB (AGA AB) of Sweden. This was followed in 2004 with the divestment of the original core of the Linde business - the refrigeration division - to Carrier Corporation of the USA. In March 2006 Linde made a proposal to acquire The BOC Group for €11.7 billion in cash. The acquisition was completed on 5 September 2006. Following the acquisition, the combined gas and engineering group was rebranded as The Linde Group, and the materials handling activities separated and rebranded as KION Group. It was also announced that the BOC Edwards equipment business was to be sold.