Air Products Raises Offer For Airgas To $5.5B

LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa. (AP) -- Air Products & Chemicals Inc. said Thursday it is raising its cash offer for rival Airgas Inc. to $5.5 billion from $5.1 billion.

Besides proposing to buy all Airgas shares for $63.50 per share, Air Products would take over $1.7 billion in debt under the proposal, Air Products spokeswoman Betsy Klebe said.

Airgas, based in Radnor, Pa., issued a statement saying its board of directors will review the revised offer. The board previously rejected proposals of $60 and $62 per share.

John McGlade, Air Products' chairman and CEO, said the offer came after an "extensive and very productive dialogue" with Airgas shareholders over the last several months as Air Products pursued a hostile takeover.

McGlade noted that the most recent offer represents a premium of 46 percent over where Airgas shares stood on Feb. 4, the day before Air Products launched its original offer.

Airgas has set a record date of July 19 for shareholders to be eligible to vote on the deal.

The revised offer will expire on Aug. 13 unless extended.

Air Products, of Allentown, Pa., sells gases including argon, nitrogen, hydrogen, helium and oxygen for industrial, medical and other uses. Airgas sells gases and provides gas equipment, welding products, tools, safety gear and janitorial supplies.

Air Products shares rose $1.04 to close at $68.78. Airgas shares climbed 37 cents to close at $63.87.

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