Praxair more than kept pace with archrival Linde in the first half of 2018, as the industrial gases giants near completion of a megamerger pending approval of regulators.

Praxair has its headquarters in Danbury which will remain its executive hub under CEO Steve Angel when the merger with Munich-based Linde is completed, with Praxair eyeing a late October combination. Angel was not available for questions on a Thursday conference call led by Praxair’s chief financial officer Matt White.

The combined company will have its titular headquarters in Ireland, while declaring the United Kingdom as its domicile for tax purposes despite the Trump administration slashing corporate taxes heading into this year.

As it seeks U.S. regulatory approval for the deal, Linde last week reached a deal to sell a majority of its gas businesses in North America to Germany-based Messer Group with backing from CVC Capital Partners. At last report, Linde had 4,000 employees in the United States serving more than 100,000 customers from some 400 locations including its regional headquarters in Bridgewater, N.J., and annual sales of $4 billion.

Praxair sales were up 8 percent in the second quarter to $3.1 billion, driven by Asia momentum that jumped 19 percent to $502 million as Praxair ramped up a gas production plant for China National Offshore Oil Corp. among multiple startups in China, India and South Korea, and benefited from differentials in exchange rates.

North American sales were up 6 percent to $1.6 billion, with Praxair citing stronger volumes and price inflation in electronics manufacturing, chemicals, and food and beverage makers. Praxair’s North American plants contributed $432 million in operating profits, up 14 percent from a year ago.

“You look at industrial production and you look at some of the subcategories ... like metal fabrication, construction, equipment — they’re doing quite well, so they drive a lot of welding (and) shielding gases,” White said Thursday. “But we are also seeing a variety across many other end-markets, some resilient markets — health care (and) some of the packaged gases we deliver to hospitals, but also aerospace (and) even refining.”

Praxair revenue rose 9 percent in the first half of 2018 to top $6 billion, edging Linde’s 5 percent gain to $10.1 billion, excluding exchange rates that if factored in resulted in a 3 percent decline in revenue. Praxair was able to increase sales despite a May truckers strike in Brazil that impacted its operations.

“Everybody was affected by the trucking,” White said. “I think we’re all pretty much back to normal there, we haven’t heard of any additional issues, but normal is still a challenging situation as we know given the political uncertainty. ... We’ll have to see what happens over the next several months.”

White said that Praxair is absorbing higher labor costs for truckers in the United States as well, as entities like FedEx, Amazon and UPS hire to keep up with demand, but that it is a cycle the company is accustomed to.

“It’s something we’re used to — we’ve got a great team that does this year in and year out,” White said.; 203-842-2545; @casoulman