Airgas wants Pa. to rule first on law firm suit

* Airgas accuses Cravath of conflict of interest

* Asks Del. judge to defer to Philadelphia federal court

* Air Products wants Del. to consider matter first

By Ernest Scheyder

NEW YORK, Feb 16 (BestGrowthStock) – Airgas Inc (ARG.N: ) has asked a
Delaware judge to let a federal court in Pennsylvania be the
first to decide a conflict-of-interest case against a law firm
representing Air Products and Chemicals Inc (APD.N: ).

The request is the latest act in a quickly unfolding drama
between Airgas and Air Products, which earlier this month bid
$5.1 billion for its smaller rival. [ID:nN09119866]

Airgas has accused the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP
of conflict of interest, saying it represented Airgas from 2001
until last October, when it dropped Airgas like a “hot potato”
to work for Air Products.

Cravath “is in possession of material, nonpublic
information and has betrayed its longtime client,” Radnor,
Pennsylvania-based Airgas said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Air
Products declined to comment.

The original conflict-of-interest case was set to be heard
in a Pennsylvania state court on Tuesday, but Air Products and
Cravath were able to move the case to a federal court in
Philadelphia.

Then on Monday, Air Products and Cravath filed with a
Delaware court to hear the case, prompting Airgas’s request to
Chancellor William Chandler III to let the matter play out in a
Pennsylvania courtroom first.

The Pennsylvania case is Airgas Inc v. Cravath, Swaine &
Moore LLP, 10-612, U.S. District Court Eastern District of
Pennsylvania. The Delaware case is Air Products & Chemicals
Inc. v. Airgas Inc, CA5249, Delaware Chancery Court.

Elsewhere, Germany’s Linde AG (LING.DE: ), the world’s
second-largest industrial gas maker, is unlikely to make an
offer for Airgas, a source familiar with the matter told
Reuters. [ID:nLDE61F1G8]

Shares of Airgas fell 56 cents to $61.25 on Tuesday
afternoon, while shares of Air Products rose $1.19 to $69.72.

Stock Report

(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder, editing by Gerald E.
McCormick)

Airgas wants Pa. to rule first on law firm suit