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Airgas board rejects latest Air Products' offer

Airgas Inc.'s board on Wednesday unanimously rejected rival Air Products & Chemicals Inc.'s latest, $5.88 billion acquisition offer.

Air Products raised its bid by 7 percent to $70 per share earlier this month, calling it the "best and final" offer in its 14-month pursuit of a deal.

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Airgas' board said the revised bid was "clearly inadequate," explaining that it believes the Radnor, Pa.-based company is worth at least $78 per share. Air Products' offer is set to expire on Jan. 14.

Airgas is recommending stockholders not tender shares into the revised bid.

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Air Products responded later on Wednesday, saying that if Airgas' board is so confident the company is worth more, it should let its stockholders decide whether or not to accept Air Products' bid.

In a statement, Air Products CEO John McGlade said the company has offered "a full and fair price" for Airgas and said that no other bidder has come forth since Air Products made its first public bid.

Airgas sells industrial and medical gases and provides gas equipment, welding products, tools and safety gear. Air Products, based in Allentown, Pa., sells gases for industrial, medical and other uses.

Air Products, which started its pursuit of Airgas in October 2009, previously said that its $70 per share offer was a 61 percent premium to Airgas' closing price on Feb. 4, the day before it went public with its first bid. In September, Air Products had increased its bid by $2 per share to $65.50 per share.

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