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Air Liquide In Talks To Buy Airgas; Tip Says 'Binding Offer' Is On The Table

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Air Liquide In Talks To Buy Airgas; Tip Says 'Binding Offer' Is On The Table
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Benzinga's M&A Chatter for Tuesday December 1, 2015
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  • Shares of Airgas, Inc. (NYSE: ARG) spiked higher by more than 7 percent after Bloomberg reported the company is an acquisition target for Air Liquide SA (ADR) (OTCMKTS: AIQUY).
  • Details of the potential acquisition were leaked earlier this morning.
  • Immediately before market open, an anonymous tip told Benzinga Air Liquide is considering a "binding offer" for Airgas in the U.S.

Shares of Airgas spiked higher by more than 7 percent after Bloomberg reported that the company is targeted for an acquisition by Air Liquide.

France-based Air Liquide may announce an acquisition of its U.S. based peer as soon as this week, according to the report that cited people familiar with the discussions. Bloomberg also stated that no final decision had been made and the talks could fall apart.

Bloomberg noted that the French company has been expanding its presence across North America, Asia, and the Middle East. The industry has seen similar consolidation following German-based Linde's acquisition of US based Lincare Holdings for $3.8 billion.

Air Liquide's Europe-listed stock gained 2.53 percent on Tuesday, closing the day at 123.65 euros. Its market cap totaled $42.21 billion, more than five times Airgas' market share following its seven percent gain on Tuesday.

Benzinga received an anonymous phone tip three hours prior to Bloomberg's report. The tip claimed Air Liquide would undergo a "binding offer" for Airgas in the U.S.

Air Liquide and Airgas have not yet responded to requests for comment.

UPDATE: Air Liquide Confirms Chatter, Buys Airgas For $143 Per Share

Shares of Airgas were halted shortly after 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday for pending news. Shortly after the halt, Air Liquide confirmed in a press release it will acquire Airgas for $143 per share, valuing the transaction at $13.4 billion.

"This combination offers significant benefits for all of our stakeholders due to the highly complementary nature of the two businesses," Benoit Potier, Chairman and CEO of Air Liquide said in the press release. "It also advances Air Liquide's vision to lead the industry and deliver longterm performance while acting responsibly. This acquisition increases our geographic reach in the resilient U.S. market, and offers continuous growth opportunities. Airgas is the industry leader in U.S. packaged gases with a customer-centric organization and we are confident in our ability to successfully combine operations. Airgas is a unique partner, and together we will continue to advance our strategy based on profitable growth and innovation over the long-term."

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