As a minority shareholder, Messer brings the sovereign wealth fund GIC from Singapore on board – and thus buys out the influential financial investor CVC. Corresponding F.A.Z. information was confirmed by the gas company on Tuesday. On the one hand, Messer is selling a stake in GIC – reportedly around one-fifth for around 2 billion euros. On the other hand, CVC is handing over its almost 50 percent stake in the central joint venture to Messer. This joint venture bundles businesses in North America, South America and some Western European countries.

Klaus Max Smolka

Editor in business.

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Messer entered into this alliance with CVC in 2018 when the opportunity arose for an acquisition that would put the family-owned company in a different league: competitor Linde merged with Praxair at the time and had to sell important businesses for antitrust reasons. Messer, at that time under Stefan Messer as CEO, was unable to financially handle the acquisition on its own, so it brought CVC on board. The duo was awarded the contract for the majority of Linde's gases business in North America and individual businesses in South America and formed the joint venture Messer Industries GmbH – in which Messer brought in Western European companies.

Control back

By his own admission, Messer always wanted to regain control and reaffirmed this in April, when Stefan Messer handed over the reins to his deputy, Bernd Eulitz, a former Linde Executive Board. "Messer's declared goal is to integrate 100 percent of the joint venture into the Messer Group," it said. The question was where the money would come from. As reported. the company negotiated with sovereign wealth funds, namely GIC.

The joint venture will return to the group via the negotiated structure – which will also eliminate its management body, over which the investor exerts influence. The price for this is. that GIC acts as a minority shareholder at group level – but with a much smaller stake and correspondingly less say than CVC at the level of the joint venture.

Messer competes globally with the big three that remain from the old oligopoly of four after Linde's merger with Praxair: In addition to the new Linde, which has been merged abroad, these are Air Liquide from France and Air Products from the USA. Before the Linde deal, Messer generated sales of just over 1.3 billion euros, and it subsequently more than doubled. Last year, the Group reported sales of 4.2 billion euros, including the fully consolidated sales of Messer Industries GmbH.

In the year of its 125th anniversary, Messer is taking two major steps: First, Stefan Messer from the owner family passed on the management to a manager from outside the family after almost twenty years, and now the company is regaining extensive control. Founded in 1898, the company was absorbed into the Hoechst Group in the 1960s. After its break-up, the majority fell into the hands of an investor duo; a third remained with the Messer family. When the investors exited again, it was financially only enough to buy back parts of the business. The most important business went to the then world market leader Air Liquide.