It's now official: Airgas is an Air Liquide subsidiary.
Paris-based Air Liquide announced the completion of the transaction on Monday, noting that the combined businesses will generate sales of more than $22 billion a current exchange rates, employee approximately 68,000 people globally and serve well over 3 million customers and patients.
"It allows Air Liquide to expand in the U.S., the largest global market for industrial gases, and extends Air Liquide’s customer base by more than one million customers," Air Liquide said in a statement Monday. "The transaction will also create efficiencies in production and supply chain thanks to the complementary nature of the two businesses, and allows for potential volume growth using Airgas’ footprint to accelerate the deployment of Air Liquide’s new offerings and technologies. The acquisition also brings with it the most advanced multi-channel distribution network in the U.S., including e-commerce and telesales capabilities.
Upon the deal's closing, the companies announced the retirement of Peter McCausland, Airgas executive chairman, to which Air Liquide senior executive vice president and board director Pierre Dufour has been appointed to.
“Today’s history-making transaction is the culmination of more than 30 years of growth and value that we have steadfastly delivered to Airgas shareholders – it is a proud moment," McCausland said in Monday's release by both companies. "The future is very bright for Airgas’ more than 1 million customers and our talented employees as we join Air Liquide’s unrivalled global footprint and strength in technology and innovation, while remaining committed to Airgas’ product offering, service model, and entrepreneurial culture. Thank you to our customers, shareholders, and associates for believing in the Airgas vision, just as I have, for all of these years.”
Along with McCausland's departure, the following executive changes were announced Monday:
- Michael Graff, Member of the Air Liquide Group’s Executive Committee and Executive Vice-President of the Houston Hub, has been appointed Vice Chairman of the Board of Airgas.
- Pascal Vinet, Member of the Air Liquide Group’s Executive Committee, will be appointed CEO of Airgas, after a brief, post-closing transition phase. During this transition phase, Michael Molinini will continue with his current responsibilities, serving as Interim CEO of Airgas, and he will retire later this year.
- Andrew Cichocki has been promoted to the role of Chief Operating Officer of Airgas, where his responsibilities will include direct oversight of the combined companies’ Industrial Merchant and Healthcare activities in the U.S., which are being consolidated under Airgas.
Air Liquide said it's next step is to pursue and finalize the sales of assets of the combined company that it and Airgas agreed to with the U.S. FTC as its provisions in approving the merger. Those provisions include the sale of 16 air separation units and associated assets (12 owned by Air Liquide and four by Airgas), two nitrous oxide plants owned by Air Liquide, four Air Liquide facilities that produce both liquid carbon dioxide and dry ice and two that produce only liquid carbon dioxide, as well as three Airgas retail packaged welding gas stores in Alaska.
The FTC says that without the divestments, the merger likely would have harmed competition and led to higher prices in several U.S. and regional markets.
Air Liquide said the divestments will reduce the combined company’s sales by approximately $270 million annually.