France-based Air Liquide said it has reached an agreement to buy industrial gasses company Airgas Inc. in a deal valued at about $13.4 billion. As part of the deal, Air Liquide will pay $143 a share in cash for each Airgas share outstanding, which represents a 35% premium to Monday's closing price of $106.18. The stock, which is currently halted for news dissemination, was up 7.4% in afternoon trade prior to the halt. Air Liquide said it expects the deal to add to earnings from the first year, and to produce $300 million in cost savings and volume synergies, mostly within two to three years. "This acquisition increases our geographic reach in the resilient U.S. market, and offers continuous growth opportunities," said Air Liquide Chief Executive Benoit Potier. "Airgas customers and employees will benefit from Air Liquide's unrivalled global footprint and strength in technology, innovation and operational efficiency, while Airgas is ready to bring the entrepreneurial culture and packaged gas excellence that have driven our success to date," said Airgas Executive Chairman Peter McCausland. Airgas's stock had gained 7.2% over the past three months until the halt, while the S&P 500 has lost 2.4%.
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