Terms of the deal call for the Paris buyer to pay $143 per share for Airgas, a premium of 34% to the target's close on Monday, in a deal that values Airgas' equity at about $10.3 billion. Air Liquide also would assume Airgas' debt.
Airgas provides atmospheric gases via 16 air separation plants, generating annual sales of about $5.3 billion via 1,100 locations. The Radnor, Pa., company does business primarily in the U.S., competing against Air Products & Chemicals (APD) - Get Report , Praxair (PX) and Linde (LNAGF) .
The deal would position Air Liquide as the largest provider of industrial, medical and specialty gases in North America, complementing its leading position in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The company in a Tuesday statement called North America the largest industrial gas market in the world, saying it sees opportunities for additional growth in the Western Hemisphere.
"This acquisition increases our geographic reach in the resilient U.S. market and offers continuous growth opportunities," Air Liquide chairman and CEO Benoît Potier said in a statement. "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."
The deal comes four years after Airgas fought off a $7 billion hostile offer from rival Air Products after the two companies could not agree on valuation. Airgas executive chairman Peter McCausland in Tuesday's statement said, "Air Liquide's long-term vision and strong heritage in the U.S. make it the right fit for our valued customers, and the combination creates significant opportunities for the talented employees of both companies."
Air Liquide said it expected to realize more than $300 million in pretax cost, efficiency and volume synergies post-deal. The company said it has committed bridge financing for the transaction that it intends to refinance via a €3 billion to €4 billion capital increase and via a combination of dollar- and euro-denominated bonds.