(Adds background on Linde-Praxair deal; changes media packaging information)
TOKYO, July 5 (Reuters) - Japanese industrial gas company Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corp said on Thursday it had agreed to buy part of the European businesses of Praxair Inc for 5 billion euros ($5.9 billion) in a move aimed at boosting its global competitiveness.
The deal helps bring Munich-based Linde AG and Danbury, Connecticut-based Praxair one step closer to securing the $83 billion all-share merger that will create a global leader in gas distribution, with revenues of almost $29 billion and 88,000 staff.
Sources previously told Reuters that Taiyo Nippon Sanso would likely buy the European assets that the two groups were trying to unload to satisfy regulators. Private equity firm Carlyle Group LP was in the running to buy their U.S. assets, they said.
Linde said in a statement that more disposals were planned.
"Linde and Praxair are in discussions with the competent authorities and in negotiations with potential bidders with the objective of completing the business combination in the second half of 2018," it said in a statement on Thursday.
A combined Linde and Praxair would have the size to overtake France's Air Liquide SA in the supply of gases such as oxygen and helium to industries worldwide.
Praxair said the assets to be sold include its industrial gases businesses in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Britain, and include approximately 2,500 employees.
Taiyo Nippon Sanso said the deal depends on the planned Praxair-Linde merger going through.
It said it would pay for the acquisition with cash on hand and loans, and had no plans to conduct equity financing. ($1 = 0.8551 euros)
Reporting by Chris Gallagher and Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Christopher Cushing