Praxair (PX) inked a deal on Tuesday to buy beverage carbonator NuCO2 from Los Angeles-based private equity firm Aurora Capital Group for $1.1 billion as it looks to expand its presence in the restaurant industry.

The Western Hemisphere’s largest industrial gases company said the deal, which is slated to close in the first quarter of 2013 pending regulatory approval and customary conditions, will be neutral to slightly accretive to Praxair’s 2013 EPS.

With more than 900 employees and 162,000 customer locations, NuCO2 is the leading national provider of beverage carbonation solutions in the U.S. to the restaurant and hospitality industries.

Its customers include quick service restaurants and convenience stores offering fountain sodas. Sales in the current fiscal year are projected to climb to about $250 million.

“We plan to continue to grow the business in the United States, enhance distribution efficiency utilizing Praxair’s competencies in logistics,” said Eduardo Menezes, executive vice president of Praxair.

The company, he said, also plans to extend NuCO2’s offerings to customers in other regions of the world.

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