Gist, a UK cold chain forwarder that has been for sale for some time, is now off the market, according to owner Linde.

The German gases company inherited Gist when it acquired BOC Group in 2006 and has been trying to sell it since 2015.

Linde had been in talks with HNA Group, the formerly acquisitive but now struggling Chinese conglomerate.

The German company said today in its first-half earnings statement that “sales negotiations with potential buyers were abandoned in the second quarter of 2018 and thus a sale is no longer deemed to be highly probable”.

As a result, it added, Linde would no longer disclose the business of Gist as a discontinued operation.

Morgan Stanley had been tasked with finding a buyer at the start of 2016, and it was expected that a major player such as Kuehne+Nagel would be interested. A deal with HNA for the largely UK-operating food logistics service provider could have been worth up to $875m.

Gist, according to its 2015 full-year financial accounts, saw sales fall 6% to £382.4m, which it said was due to contract renegotiations and expiries. Operating profit fell by 64%, while profit after tax was £25.8m, down 23%.

In its 2016 results, Linde noted: “Due to the planned sale of Gist in 2017, the revenue and operating profit contributed by this division has been reported as a discontinued operation and are therefore not included in the group figures.”

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