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Air Products Thinks It’s In An Activist Investor’s Sights, Shares Rise

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Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE:APD) apparently feels the hot breath of an activist investor bearing down on it, and some say it could be Bill Ackman. The Pershing Square head said in a letter to clients earlier this month that the fund was raising money with the aim of buying a major stake in a large cap company. Today Business Insider’s Julia La Roche reports that Air Products is taking steps to prevent an activist attempt from Bill Ackman or someone else like him.

Air Products

Air Products has usurped FedEx

Shares of FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) rose more than two weeks ago on speculation that the package delivery company was Ackman’s target. However, analysts at JPMorgan and RBC Capital both issued reports about why FedEx probably wasn’t the company the activist investor is targeting.

Keep in mind that CNBC was the source of the rumors about FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX) being Ackman’s next target. This time around, the rumor comes once again from CNBC, which suggests that Bill Ackman might be targeting Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE:APD).

Air Products feels the heat

According to CNBC’s David Faber, Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE:APD) could be Bill Ackman’s target because the company issued a statement saying that it intended to adopt a so-called “poison pill” or shareholder rights plan. The company decided to do this after it “observed unusual and substantial activity” in trades of its stock. It also said in its release though that the plan “has not been adopted in response to any specific takeover bid or other proposal to acquire control of the Company.”

As of this writing, shares of Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE:APD) had risen almost 6 percent. In fact, they hit a new 52-week high.

Of course we don’t have any idea at this point if it is Bill Ackman who’s targeting this company or even if any activist investor is, but clearly the trades the company noticed recently have management concerned enough to cover themselves—just in case.

Air Products explains the plan

Under the shareholder rights plan, Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE:APD) said it will issue one preferred stock purchase right for each current share of common stock outstanding at the close of business on August 5. Those rights will not be exercisable at first and they will trade along with the shares of the company’s common stocks. The rights will only become exercisable if a person or group acquires 10 percent (for individuals) or 20 percent (for institutional investors) of the company’s shares in a transaction that hasn’t been approved by the company’s board.

If this happens, the holders of these rights (which won’t be exercisable by the person who made the large share acquisition) will be able to purchase “a number of Air Products common shares having a market value of twice such price.”

Business Insider has published the full release here for those interested.

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