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French group Air Liquide confirms possible sale of German unit Schuelke

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By Reuters
French group Air Liquide confirms possible sale of German unit Schuelke
FILE PHOTO: The Air Liquide logo is displayed in Bouliac, near Bordeaux, France, September 16, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau   -   Copyright  REGIS DUVIGNAU(Reuters)

PARIS (Reuters) – French industrial gases company Air Liquide <AIRP.PA> said it was examining the possible sale of its German unit Schuelke, confirming an earlier Reuters exclusive.

“Being at the very preliminary stage of this process, different scenarios are being reviewed and no assurance can be given that this will result in a divestment,” Air Liquide said in a statement on Wednesday.

Reuters had reported earlier this month that Air Liquide was putting Schuelke up for sale in a deal worth up to 1 billion euros (859.6 million pounds) as it seeks to streamline its operations and shed non-core assets, with investment bank JP Morgan <JPM.N> advising Air Liquide on the matter.

Norderstedt-based Schuelke, which was bought by Air Liquide in 1996 but no longer fits with its focus on supplying industrial gases, has annual sales of 335 million euros ($369 million).

Schuelke could be valued at roughly 12-13 times that, sources have told Reuters, adding that Air Liquide is expected to tout the asset to peers such as Ecolab <ECL.N> as well as to private equity groups.

The sale of Schuelke comes as private equity firm American Securities puts Emerald Performance Materials on the block in the United States, while German chemicals group BASF <BASFn.DE> is also looking to sell its construction chemicals unit.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Susan Fenton)