Linde (LNAGF) and Praxair (PX)  announced a definitive business combination agreement on Thursday, after the Linde supervisory board signed up to a $70 billion merger, despite months of opposition from the Linde workforce in Germany and their representatives on the board.

In a statement, Linde said the two companies had agreed to come together under a new holding company through an all-stock merger of equals transaction. Linde and Praxair expect the transaction to close in the second half of 2018, subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

The announcement said there will be about $1.2 billion in annual synergies and cost reductions.

Linde shareholders will receive 1.54 shares in the new holding company for each Linde share and Praxair shareholders will receive one share in the new holding company for each Praxair share. The combined group will be called Linde and governed by a board with equal representation from Linde and Praxair. It will be listed on both the New York Stock Exchange and Frankfurt Stock Exchange,

"This combination is a compelling and transformative opportunity to create a world-class leader in the industrial gas industry," said Steve Angel, chairman and CEO of Connecticut-based Praxair, in the statement. "The combined company will give us the opportunity to leverage the individual strengths of both companies across a much larger global footprint and enhance our ability to drive innovation and growth."

"This merger is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to form a great global industrial gas company poised to deliver value for customers, employees and shareholders alike. The new company is well positioned in all key markets and regions and can build on its exceptional R&D expertise," said Aldo Belloni, CEO of Linde.

Linde was up 2.91% at 174.90 in late trading in Frankfurt, while Praxair was up 2.49% at $135.59 at 1.11 pm in New York.