NEW YORK/FRANKFURT, June 20 (Reuters) - Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corp and private equity firm Carlyle Group have emerged as frontrunners to buy assets that gases groups Linde and Praxair need to divest to seal their planned merger, people close to the matter said.
The bidders are expected to enter into exclusive negotiations shortly on the sale of two packages of assets worth about $8 billion in total, the people added.
Taiyo is in the frame to bag the European package, while Carlyle would take the U.S. assets, they said.
The two deals could clear the way to secure the fate of an all-share merger of equals that Munich-based Linde and Danbury, Connecticut-based Praxair struck to create a global leader in gas distribution, with revenues of almost $29 billion and 88,000 staff.
Linde and Carlyle declined to comment, while Praxair and Taiyo were not immediately available for comment. (Reporting by Harry Brumpton, Arno Schuetze, Greg Roumeliotis Additional reporting by Ludwig Burger and Taiga Uranaka Editing by Douglas Busvine)