Air Products announced that it has commenced a fully financed tender offer for all outstanding common shares of one of its supply-chain customers, Airgas Inc., for $60.00 per share. The proposal was made formal after Airgas directors rejected two previous offers over the past four months. Because Air Products is a producer of industrial, medical and retail gases and Airgas is a distributor of those products, the goal is to form North America’s largest integrated gas company. The estimated value of the takeover is $7 billion, according to Air Products.

At $60.00 per share in cash, the Air Products’ offer provides Airgas shareholders a 38% premium to Airgas’ closing price of $43.53 on Feb. 4, 2010, the last trading day prior to public disclosure of the Air Products offer, and is 18% above Airgas’ previous 52-week high. The offer and withdrawal rights will expire on April 9, 2010, unless extended.