Praxair To Fight $1.3B Fine

NEW YORK (AP) -- Praxair, one of the world's biggest industrial gas companies, said Thursday it is "shocked" and "absolutely rejects claims" of anticompetitive behavior by a subsidiary in Brazil.

On Wednesday, the Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense imposed a civil fine of 2.2 billion reais ($1.3 billion) on White Martins, Praxair's Brazil subsidiary. Praxair didn't detail the alleged behavior in its statement Thursday. A Praxair spokesman wasn't immediately available to comment.

"Praxair strongly believes that the allegations of anticompetitive activity against our Brazilian subsidiary are not supported by valid and sufficient evidence," Praxair said in a statement. "We further believe that the fine represents a gross and arbitrary disregard of Brazilian law."

The company added that it is defending itself and is "confident that we will prevail on appeal and have the fine overturned."

Praxair is the largest industrial gas company in the Americas and one of the largest worldwide. Its shares fell 67 cents to $85.98 in afternoon trading.

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