Sunday, September 12, 2010

Airgas may buy back $700 million of its stock

Shareholder meeting will be held Wednesday

Airgas Inc. says it may buy back $700 million of its stock and could overhaul its balance sheet to purchase more should Air Products & Chemicals Inc. withdraw its 5.5 billion hostile takeover bid, according to a report by

Airgas can buy 13 percent of its stock at the current price under existing loan covenants Peter McCausland, the Pennsylvania-based industrial-gases distributor’s chief executive officer, said a telephone interview with Bloomberg. Airgas could refinance debt and tap new investors as part of a recapitalization to extend the share buybacks, he said, declining to comment on pricing.

Air Products is threatening to withdraw its bid of $65.50 a share unless Airgas shareholders on Sept. 15 elect its three director nominees and approve its proxy questions at an annual meeting. One of the questions may allow Air Products nominees to seize control of Airgas’s nine-member board in January.

“If this January meeting is turned down and Air Products walks, we will be able to come up with a good solution,” McCausland said, according to Bloomberg. “What is really important is that the remaining shares that aren’t purchased trade at a good price.”
For a full copy of the report, click on to

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