UPDATE 3-Air Products says FTC signs off on Airgas bid

* Tender offer extended to October 29

* Air Products says has FTC consent agreement for deal

* Airgas says news ‘does nothing to change our conviction’

* Issue likely settled at Airgas meeting in September

* Shares trading lightly
(Updates stocks, adds context)

By Ernest Scheyder

NEW YORK, Aug 16 (BestGrowthStock) – Industrial gas producer Air
Products and Chemicals Inc (APD.N: ) said on Monday it signed a
consent degree with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that
would let it acquire Airgas Inc (ARG.N: ), and the company also
extended the tender offer for its rival.

Air Products had sought the approval for some time, and the
extension was widely expected. Attention now turns to Airgas’s
annual meeting, which will be held next month.

The consent decree would let Allentown, Pennsylvania-based
Air Products complete the acquisition if and when it receives
support from a majority of Airgas shareholders. Air Products
would also need to divest some assets to satisfy the FTC’s
antitrust concerns.

“There remain no substantive impediments to closing
immediately other than the intransigence of the Airgas board,”
Air Products Chief Executive John McGlade said.

Airgas said the tender extension and the FTC agreement
“does nothing to change our conviction that the Air Products’
offer grossly undervalues Airgas.”

Air Products boosted its offer in early July to $63.50 per
share cash, or $5.3 billion, from $60 per share.
[ID:nN08231796]

When Air Products made its initial offer in February,
Airgas shares had traded around $43, but they jumped after the
offer and are now trading around $65.

Any shareholder wanting to gain a premium over the offer
could simply sell in the open market today, though much of the
company’s stock is currently held by arbitrage investors
betting on a higher bid.

As of Aug. 13, about 23 percent of outstanding Airgas
shares have been tendered to support the offer, Air Products
said, noting that the total includes shares of Airgas it
already holds.

Air Products also pushed the deadline for Airgas
shareholders to tender into its offer to Oct. 29. The previous
deadline had been Aug. 13.

“We … encourage all Airgas stockholders not to tender
their shares into Air Products’ grossly inadequate offer, and
similarly encourage those who have tendered to withdraw their
shares,” Radnor, Pennsylvania-based Airgas said in a
statement.

Both companies posted better-than-expected quarterly profit
last month. [ID:nN22215449] [ID:nN21132246]

Some Airgas shareholders, as well as Air Products itself,
have sued Airgas, hoping to force it to agree to the deal. A
Delaware judge declined to hold the trial quickly, instead
opting for a fall trial after Airgas’ shareholders meet.
[ID:nN18229119]

Shares of Airgas rose 1.0 percent to $65.57 in afternoon
trading, while shares of Air Products rose 0.7 percent to
$76.18.
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder, editing by Gerald E.
McCormick)

UPDATE 3-Air Products says FTC signs off on Airgas bid