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Airgas' Acquisition by Air Liquide Receives FTC Approval

After a prolonged investigation, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has cleared the pending acquisition of Airgas, Inc. ARG by Air Liquide. This is the final regulatory condition for the buyout to close.

On Nov 17, 2015, Airgas announced that it will be acquired by Air Liquide for $143 per share in cash, or a total enterprise value of $13.4 billion. The deal is touted to be the largest takeover in the industrial gases space in recent years. The transaction brings together Air Liquide, the world leader in gases, technologies and services for Industry and Health, and Airgas, one of the leading suppliers of industrial gases in the U.S.

The combined company will hold the leading position in North America, complementing Air Liquide’s number one position in Europe, Africa/Middle East and the Asia-Pacific. It will also be number one in Industrial Merchant and Large Industries, and co-number one in Electronics, worldwide. The acquisition of Airgas represents significant value for shareholders of both companies. Upon completion, Airgas’ stockholders will receive immediate and substantial cash value for their shares.

However, the merger was subject to the receipt of necessary antitrust and other regulatory approvals. The FTC's clearance is the last major step toward acquisition closure and follows the decision by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) on Mar 10, 2016 that the proposed acquisition poses no national security concerns.

The FTC's clearance is subject to certain conditions, to be satisfied following the closing of the acquisition, which Air Liquide has agreed to undertake, including the sale of certain assets. A divestiture package has been prepared and the divestiture process is well underway. The companies anticipate closing the acquisition on May 23, subject to the satisfaction of the remaining customary closing conditions.

Airgas currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Some better-ranked stocks include Akzo Nobel N.V. AKZOY, Albemarle Corporation ALB and Asahi Kasei Corporation AHKSY. All three stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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