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Schumer urges Praxair to protect local jobs after merger

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer has urged Praxair to retain the more than 1,000 jobs it has in the Buffalo Niagara region and to use its proposed merger with Linde AG as a springboard to possibly expanding the combined company's operations in Western New York.

Schumer, D-N.Y., called Praxair CEO Steve Angel after the $35.1 billion merger with Linde was disclosed on Tuesday.

“My message to Praxair was clear: They must make it a priority to build on the success here in Western New York and ensure a bright future for our local workers," Schumer said in a statement Thursday. "I am confident he heard me loud and clear, and he committed to working with me throughout this process.”

Schumer, who will become the Senate's minority leader in the upcoming Congress, said he urged Angel to protect the more than 1,000 "important jobs" that the company currently has in the Town of Tonawanda and Niagara Falls.

"Not only are these jobs vital to the community and economy, the employees are efficient, loyal and productive so they should be the foundation for future growth and profitability for the company as it moves through this proposed merger,” said Schumer, who earlier this year lobbied KeyCorp executives to keep jobs in the Buffalo Niagara region following its purchase of First Niagara Bank.

Praxair's Technology Center in the Town of Tonawanda is the company's main engineering hub. Its Niagara Falls site produces hydrogen.

The merger – which was revived after an earlier attempt this summer failed – would bring together two of the world's largest suppliers of industrial-gas products.

Unions represented on the Linde board blocked the earlier merger because of concerns about jobs and operations in Germany. Linde guaranteed that there would be no forced layoffs until 2022, according to a union statement last week.

The nonbinding agreement came less than two weeks after Linde said it would resume talks with Praxair. Linde had called off discussions in September. The merger would create a company with more than $30 billion in annual sales and a market capitalization of more than $60 billion.

The combined company would operate under the Linde name, and its board of directors would be split evenly between representatives from the two companies.

The new company would have stock listings in New York and in Frankfurt and have its headquarters in Europe, with corporate functions split between Praxair's main office in Danbury, Conn., and Linde's Munich headquarters.

The merger is expected to result in cost savings of about $1 billion a year.

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