Airgas To Hike Rates

Industrial gas supplier Airgas Inc. says it plans to raise prices on several gases as well as delivery and service charges starting March 1.

RADNOR, Pa. (AP) -- Industrial gas supplier Airgas Inc. says it plans to raise prices on several gases as well as delivery and service charges starting March 1. It also will hike cylinder and bulk tank rental rates 8 to 10 percent effective Feb. 1.

Starting March 1, or as contracts permit, Airgas will increase prices on bulk and packaged industrial, medical and specialty gases 10 percent to 12 percent on average and up to 10 percent for delivery and other service charges.

The Radnor company said Thursday rising supplier and operating costs driven by higher power, fuel, raw material and labor and benefit expenses are behind the increases.

"Costs are rising while capacity utilization is increasing in the wake of growing demand," Airgas CEO Peter McCausland said in a statement from the company. "We continue to invest in our infrastructure in order to more efficiently meet our customers' demands while fulfilling the safety and security requirements of our industry."

Airgas sells industrial and medical gases and provides gas equipment, welding products, tools, and safety gear.

Rival Air Products & Chemicals Inc. has been trying to buy Airgas since October 2009. Earlier this month, it extended the expiration date of its tender offer for Airgas' outstanding common shares to Feb. 4. The company is offering $70 per share for all outstanding shares.

In December, Airgas rejected the $5.88 billion acquisition offer, which was a 7 percent hike from a prior bid.

Airgas shares climbed 37 cents to $62.47 in afternoon trading

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