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Germany's Linde agrees to sell S.Korea assets to IMM for $1.2 bln -sources

(Adds IMM to buy industrial gas business)

FRANKFRUT/SEOUL/HONG KONG, March 8 (Reuters) - German industrial gases group Linde has agreed to sell its South Korean assets to local private equity firm IMM for 1.3 trillion won ($1.15 billion), two people familiar with the matter told Reuters on Friday.

The move is seen as part of Linde's efforts to divest assets in South Korea and elsewhere to win antitrust clearance for its $86 billion merger with rival Praxair, which will create an industry leader.

South Korea's competition watchdog in October said Linde and Praxair would have to sell some of their assets, raising concerns that their combination would restrict competition.

The sources said Macquarie Group Ltd, Air Liquide SA had also bid for Linde's South Korean assets.

IMM will buy Linde's industrial gas business in South Korea, while Linde will retain its special gas operations in the country, one of the sources said.

The person said the two firms aim to close the deal by the end of April. A second person confirmed the sale, without elaborating on the value of the deal.

Linde declined to comment. IMM, Macquarie and Air Liquide were not immediately available for comment.

Linde and Praxair won U.S. antitrust approval for their merger in October.

The all-share merger creates an industry leader now called Linde PLC with revenue of about $27 billion based on 2017 figures, and 80,000 employees across more than 100 countries.

($1 = 1,133.2600 won)

(Reporting by Arno Schuetze in FRANKFURT, Hyunjoo Jin in SEOUL and Kane Wu in HONG KONG; Additional reporting by Alexander Huebner; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Kim Coghill)