Liftoff for Air Products After Ackman Enters

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Add Air Products (APD) to Bill Ackman's list of successful activist investments, after the hedge funder agitated to revamp the company's management and board. Air Products said on Wednesday it has hired Seifi Ghasemi, a recent board appointment and former Rockwell Holdings (ROC) CEO, to replace outgoing CEO John E. McGlade.

Ackman Expects Influence in Air Products CEO Search

Ghasemi's CEO appointment isn't much of a surprise, and is likely to be looked at favorably by investors and stock analysts given his proven track record in the chemicals sector. Ackman was supportive of Ghasemi's appointment to Air Products' board in late 2013. Earlier this year, he expected to have a role in picking McGlade's successor.

"We don't control the decision, we have a lot of influence over it," Ackman said at the Harbor Investment Conference in February. Pershing Square Capital Management holds a near 10% stake in Air Products shares worth in excess of $2.6 billion, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings compiled by Bloomberg as of the first quarter.

In September, Air Products named three new independent directors to its board and said current CEO McGlade would retire in 2014. Those changes were accepted by Pershing Square, which voted in favor of directors nominated by Air Products at its 2014 shareholder meeting in January.

Air Products named Ghasemi, Edward L. Monser, chief operating officer of Emerson Electric, and Matthew Paull, a former chief financial officer of McDonald's (MCD), to replace three directors that retired at the end of 2013.

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