November 18, 2015 / 1:42 AM / in 2 years

France's Air Liquide to buy U.S. peer Airgas in $13.4 billion deal

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s Air Liquide (AIRP.PA) said on Tuesday it will buy U.S. peer Airgas Inc ARG.N in a $13.4 billion deal including debt that will boost its footprint in the U.S. market, the world’s top industrial gases market.

The cash offer represented a premium of 50.6 percent to Airgas’one-month average share price, before the announcement of the transaction, and a premium of 20.3 percent over Airgas’ 52-week-high share price, the statement said.

The deal, accretive to earnings from the first year, will yield more than $300 million of pre-tax cost, efficiency and volume synergies, the majority within two to three years.

“This acquisition increases our geographic reach in the resilient U.S. market, and offers continuous growth opportunities,” Air Liquide Chairman and CEO Benoit Potier said in a statement.

The acquisition of Airgas, the industry leader in U.S. packaged gases, will notably increase Air Liquide’s Gas & Services sales by around 30 percent.

Air Liquide provides industrial gases used in the food, auto, chemical, oil and gas, aerospace, and semiconductor sectors, as well as in engineering and construction. It also supplies medical gases that help patients breathe, relieve pain or are used in anaesthesia.

Air Liquide said it had committed bridge financing for the transaction and intends to refinance it through a capital increase in the range of 3 billion to 4 billion euros ($3.2-$4.3 billion), and a combination of U.S. dollar and euro long-term bonds.

The transaction is subject to Airgas shareholders’ approval, receipt of antitrust and other regulatory approvals

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; editing by Susan Thomas

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