The companies - including oil producers Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) and Total (NYSE:TOT), and automakers BMW (OTCPK:BMWYY), Daimler (OTCPK:DDAIF), Honda (NYSE:HMC), Hyundai (OTC:HYMTF) and Toyota (NYSE:TM) - say they will seek to boost investment in developing and commercializing the hydrogen sector, currently amounting to just €1.4B/year, vs. hundreds of billions of dollars invested annually by the oil sector.
"We are not trying to bring hydrogen only to cars or trains. We are trying to bring a systemic approach," says Air Liquide (OTCPK:AIQUF) CEO Benoit Potier.
Air Liquide (OTCPK:AIQUF, OTCPK:AIQUY) is exploring a sale of its Aqua Lung unit, one of the world’s leading makers of diving equipment such as masks, snorkels and wetsuits, and founded by famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, Betaville reports.
Air Liquide has asked Goldman Sachs to find a buyer, and various P-E firms may be interested, according to the report.
The company says it is seeking revenue growth of 6%-8% annually between now and 2020, and expects to deliver a return on capital employed in excess of 10% after 5-6 years; its ROCE was 10.3% in 2015, short of a targeted 12%-13% return.
When the Airgas deal was announced last November, it was expected to help Air Liquide overtake rivals Linde (OTCPK:LNAGF), Air Products (NYSE:APD) and Praxair (NYSE:PX) to the top spot in North America and help diversify away from slow-growth Europe.
The Federal Trade Commission approves Air Liquide's (OTCPK:AIQUF) takeover of Airgas (NYSE:ARG) on condition that the companies sell assets used to produce bulk oxygen, bulk nitrogen, bulk argon and four other types of gases.
The companies agree to sell 16 air separation units and associated assets (12 owned by Air Liquide and four by ARG), 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 ARG 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.
Airgas (ARG +0.8%) continues to rise following yesterday's news that it was being acquired by Air Liquide (OTCPK:AIQUF) for ~$13.4B; however, Air Liquide shares fell 7.4% in Paris trading today.
UBS keeps a Sell rating on Air Liquide and describes the deal as "pricey" at a premium of 50.6% to ARG's one-month average share price.
Americas Air Liquide President and CEO Michael Graff admits the price is hefty but says "we’re looking at long-term strategic value... It’s the biggest player in the packaged gas business in the U.S. You are going to pay what is appropriate."
Air Liquide forecasts that up to 25% of the increase in global industrial gas demand will come in the U.S.; Graff specifically expects more growth along the Gulf coast related to providing industrial gases for the ongoing petrochemical growth surge, as well as for refineries and oil and gas production from the shale boom.
The deal comes after ARG fended off a takeover bid in 2010 from rival Air Products (APD -0.3%); Air Liquide's agreement to pay more than double the per-share price offered by APD now is looking smart.