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Airgas Investor Mason Capital Urges Air Products Deal

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Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Airgas Inc. shareholder Mason Capital Management LLC urged company directors to hire more advisers and negotiate a sale to Air Products & Chemicals Inc.

Airgas’s independent directors should hire their own financial adviser and legal counsel to help facilitate a deal, Michael Martino, a principal at Mason Capital, a New York-based hedge fund, said today in a letter to the board. Airgas, the biggest U.S. distributor of packaged gases, has rejected Air Products’ bid of $65.50 a share as too low, saying the company is worth at least $78 a share.

Shareholders in September elected three nominees of Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Air Products to Airgas’s staggered board and voted to move up the next meeting to January. The Delaware Supreme Court last month invalidated the January meeting, saying it improperly shortened directors’ terms.

“We think that common sense suggests that your shareholders have spoken in a meaningful way and are requesting that your board endeavor to reach a deal with Air Products,” Martino said in the letter, a copy of which was distributed by Mason Capital in a statement.

Mason said it owns 1.5 million shares of Radnor, Pennsylvania-based Airgas, down from 2.55 million shares reported in September.

Air Products, the second-biggest U.S. industrial-gases producer behind Praxair Inc., has said Airgas is worth less than $70 a share. Air Products first offered to buy Airgas on Oct. 15, 2009.

Airgas rose $2.55, or 4 percent, to $66.26 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Air Products fell $1.02, or 1.2 percent, to $87.61.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jack Kaskey in New York at jkaskey@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Casey at scasey4@bloomberg.net.

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