Industrial Gas Giants Duke It Out

The Chemical industry is more than just research and product development--it's also about business; and unless you have been living under a rock for the past year, you have heard at least something about the conflict between Airgas and Air Products and Chemicals, Inc (APCI). These companies are two of the biggest players in the industrial gases market, and for the past year Air Products and Chemicals has been attempting to purchase Airgas, beginning with a purchase offer made in early February of 2010.

Over the past year the Battle for Airgas has waged on through increasing purchase price offers, Board of Directors upheaval, shareholder dissent, poison pill tactics, legal conflicts, and the repeated rejection of ACPI's offers. On December 9, 2010, Air Products submitted their best and final offer at $70 per share (a 61% premium on the fair market value of Airgas stock prior to ACPI's initial offer).

On December 22, 2010 the offer was rejected. It looks like Airgas will remain sovereign... or will it? There is still a case in the Delaware court that will be decided early in 2011, the result of which could change both the outcome and the precedent.

What is in question in this case is the use of the Poison Pill (also known as a Shareholder Rights Plan) by Airgas, a tactic that makes it impossible for the buying company to ever succeed. In the past, Delaware courts have upheld such plans, so it should be interesting to see how the judge rules--and what will occur as a result of the ruling.

A great resource for tracking the Air Products - Airgas story as it unfolds is the New York Times DealBook and The Deal Professor.

Additionally, each Company has webspace dedicated to documenting this ongoing saga. To get both sides of the story, please see the websites below:

Air Products website for the Airgas Offer

Airgas website for Air Products Unsolicited Offer

What's your take on the next chapter in the Airgas Saga?

Photo: Eric Wuestenhagen


Kent Harrington's picture

You're making this an increasingly interesting site. Thanks for the interesting post. Kent

ehorahan's picture

Speak for yourself! ;) I think this entire thing will get much more interesting in January. It is interesting to read the tone of the correspondance between the companies - you can tell what they would really like to say!

May's picture

Agreed, the battle would get more interesting in January for sure.