Activist investor acquires 9.8% stake in Air Products

31 July 2013 16:04  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--US industrial gases specialist Air Products said on Wednesday that Pershing Square Capital Management, the firm led by activist investor William Ackman, has acquired a stake in the company.

The announcement follows Air Products’ adoption last week of a poison pill defence aimed at preventing a takeover, following “unusual and substantial activity in the company’s shares”, it said in a statement at the time.

According to a regulatory filing made by Pershing Square on Wednesday, the firm has acquired a total holding of 9.8% in Air Products. The stake is currently valued at around $2.2bn (€1.7bn), based on Air Products’ current market cap of $22.69bn.

“The company has not been contacted by Pershing Square Capital Management but welcomes new investors and looks forward to engaging with Pershing Square to understand its views,” Air Products said in a statement.

Air Products announced on 25 July that it was adopting a stockholder rights plan that gives existing shareholders the opportunity to buy new shares at a discount. The plan would come into effect if an investor were to acquire 10% or more of Air Products’ issued share capital without approval from the company’s board.

The measures are intended to dilute the company’s stock and make a takeover more difficult.

Air Products, which posted a 41% year-on-year fall in net income for the March-June quarter this year on the back of higher costs, said that it was focused on increasing shareholder value by growing profitability.

It identified recent streamlining of its product portfolio, including the divestment of its polyurethanes intermediates business, as an example of its focus on shareholder value, along with expanding its footprint in emerging markets, and reducing costs.

“Air Products will thoroughly review constructive input from shareholders as part of its commitment to increasing shareholder value,” the company said.

($1 = €0.75)

By: Tom Brown
+44 208 652 3214

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