Air Liquide Deal for Airgas Wins US Approval With Asset Sales

(Bloomberg) - Air Liquide SA won U.S. antitrust approval for its takeover of Airgas Inc. after the companies agreed to resolve competition concerns by selling assets used to produce industrial gases.

Air Liquide and Airgas committed to sell facilities that make seven industrial gases used in industries including steel-making, health care and oil and gas production, the Federal Trade Commission said in a statement Friday.

Airgas agreed to the $13.4 billion sale to Air Liquide in November. Buying Airgas, which gets 98 percent of its revenue from the U.S., would help Paris-based Air Liquide leapfrog competitors Linde AG, Air Products & Chemicals Inc. and Praxair Inc. to the top spot in North America. The deal came together four years after Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Air Products abandoned a $5.9 billion hostile bid for Airgas when a Delaware judge upheld a poison-pill takeover defense.

Air Liquide said in a statement the divestiture process is “well under way” and the companies expect to close the acquisition May 23. They said they won clearance from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. in March.

Without the divestitures, the deal would eliminate competition between the companies and make it more likely that Air Liquide could exercise market power, the FTC said.

To contact the reporter on this story: David McLaughlin in Washington at dmclaughlin9@bloomberg.net To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net Brendan Case

Copyright 2016 Bloomberg News.

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