Air Liquide-Airgas Is Biggest Industrial-Gases Deal in 9 Years

  • Airgas may be last consolidation opportunity for some time
  • `Leaves a slower-growth' strategy for companies not bidding

Air Liquide SA’s $10.3 billion accord to acquire Airgas Inc. is set to be the largest takeover in industrial gases in nine years and is the latest in a string of both successful and failed deals in the industry in recent years.

The acquisition of Radnor, Pennsylvania-based Airgas, announced Tuesday, may mark the last opportunity for some time to consolidate the industry, said Jason Miner, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

“It leaves a slower-growth, bolt-on strategy for anyone who is not competing against the bid,” he said in an interview.

Here are the largest deals in the past decade and a half:

  • Praxair Inc., Airgas’s largest rival, agreed to pay $1.1 billion for NuCO2 Inc. in 2013 to acquire the nation’s largest supplier of beverage carbonation to restaurants.

  • Germany’s Linde AG bought Lincare Holding Inc., a U.S. supplier of oxygen and respiratory therapy services, for $4.4 billion including debt in 2012.

  • Airgas fended off a hostile $5.9 billion bid from U.S. rival Air Products & Chemicals Inc. in 2011 after a Delaware judge upheld the company’s anti-takeover defense. Air Products had pursued the deal for more than a year, bidding as much as $70 a share, as Airgas officials repeatedly rejected the advances by claiming it was worth more.

  • Linde’s 2006 takeover of the U.K.’s BOC Group Plc for $14.1 billion -- the largest in the industry -- allowed it to leapfrog Air Liquide at the time to become the world’s biggest supplier of gases such as oxygen and nitrogen.

  • Air Liquide bought Messer Griesheim GmbH’s industrial-gas assets in Germany, the U.K. and U.S. for $3.4 billion in 2004.

  • In 2000, Linde abandoned talks to buy a majority stake in Messer Griesheim amid antitrust concerns.
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