BOC Group acquisition fizzles

Air Products & Chemicals Inc., Allentown, Pa., and French industrial gases company Air Liquide SA said Friday that they'll let their $11.6 billion cash bid for UK-based BOC Group PLC expire. The two firms said they were unable to win regulatory approval for the acquisition, despite the fact that they had made several proposals to the US Federal Trade Commission during the 10 months of negotiations, including suggesting the divestiture of BOC's US gas businesses.


Air Products & Chemicals Inc., Allentown, Pa., and French industrial gases company Air Liquide SA said Friday that they'll let their $11.6 billion cash bid for UK-based BOC Group PLC expire.

The two firms said they were unable to win regulatory approval for the acquisition, despite the fact that they had made several proposals to the US Federal Trade Commission during the 10 months of negotiations, including suggesting the divestiture of BOC's US gas businesses.

Both companies said last July that they would buy rival BOC, with the intent of splitting BOC's assets between them. The wanted to strengthen their positions in the business of supplying carbon dioxide and other gases needed to process oil and chemicals, put the fizz in soft drinks, chill imported fruits and vegetables, and manufacture high-quality steel.

In light of the news of the failed takeover, Moody's Investor Service said it is keeping the BOC Group's long and short-term securities under review for possible downgrade. BOC's share price fell $10.75, or more than 26%, to $29.95 late Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Moody's said it will consider the impact that the takeover bid will have on BOC going forward, as well as the likely strategic options that may be undertaken by BOC to enhance shareholder value and expand its business over the coming years. It expects to conclude the rating's review for BOC's debt securities over the coming few weeks.

Air Liquide is the world's largest producer of industrial gases. BOC holds the No. 2 spot, and Air Products is fourth. BOC Group is headquartered in Windlesham, England.

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