Airgas Board Rejects Air Products Bid

RADNOR, Pa. (AP) -- Airgas Inc. board members have unanimously rejected a sweetened $5.5 billion buyout offer from rival Air Products and Chemicals Inc.

Airgas said Wednesday the offer of $65.50 per share still grossly undervalues the company and is only a $2 hike from Air Products' previous offer.

The company also advised its shareholders to reject some director candidates and bylaw amendment proposals from Air Products at the Airgas annual meeting Sept. 15.

"We believe that this slight increase in Air Products' offer price does not adequately compensate Airgas stockholders for the (company's) inherent value, excellent prospects and impressive economic performance since Air Products first announced its offer," Airgas said in a statement.

Air Products, of Allentown, Pa., sells gases for industrial, medical and other uses. Airgas, of Radnor, Pa., sells industrial and medical gases and provides gas equipment, welding products, tools, and safety gear.

The companies have haggled over a possible deal for months. Air Products announced a bid in February that amounted to about $5.1 billion, or $60 per share.

On Monday, Air Products raised its offer from a previous price of $63.50 per share.

Air Products said the Airgas board was resorting to "last-minute gambits" that shouldn't distract shareholders from choices they face at the annual meeting.

"Airgas shareholders should see these latest actions by the Airgas Board as part of a continuing pattern of behavior designed to avoid a sale of Airgas at any price," Air Products said in a separate statement.

Air Products shares rose 41 cents to $77.79 Wednesday, while Airgas shares fell $1.16, or 1.8 percent, to $64.59.

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