France's Air Liquide announced Tuesday that it will acquire Airgas of the United States for $13.4 billion to build the world's largest industrial gas company.
Air Liquide said the transaction would significantly enhance its position in the US, the world's leading market for industrial gases. It catapults Air Liquide past Linde AG of Germany as the industry's largest company by revenue.
Annual revenues of the two merging companies are about $20.5 billion, compared to $18 billion for Linde.
Air Liquide will pay $143 per share for outstanding shares of Airgas, amounting to a 50.6 percent premium over Airgas' one-month average share price, the companies said. The price includes the assumption of Airgas debt.
Airgas shares had already begun to climb last week from around the $95 level when news of a possible deal leaked out.
On Tuesday alone they gained 29.1 percent to $136.12 in afternoon trade.
Air Liquide, which sells to a variety of industries, including oil and gas, semi-conductors and manufacturers, said Airgas's appeal was due partly to its leadership position in "packaged gas" where gas is shipped in cylinders or in liquid form in less-than-truckload quantities.
"This acquisition increases our geographic reach in the resilient US market, and offers continuous growth opportunities," said Benoit Potier, chief executive of Air Liquide.
Air Liquide said the deal would allow it to save $300 million in costs. To finance the deal, Air Liquide plans a capital increase of three to four billion euros as well as the issuance of US dollar and euro bonds.