Under the terms of the deal, Airgas shareholders will receive $143 per share in cash from Air Liquide for all outstanding shares of Airgas.

Air Liquide chairman and CEO Benoît Potier said: "This combination offers significant benefits for all of our stakeholders due to the highly complementary nature of the two businesses."

"Airgas is a unique partner, and together we will continue to advance our strategy based on profitable growth and innovation over the long-term."

Air Liquide said that the combination would create largest industrial gas company in the world, and will generate more than $300m of pre-tax cost, efficiency and volume synergies.

Air Liquide expects the acquisition to increase its geographic reach in the US, which is said to be the largest industrial gases market in the world, besides offering continuous growth opportunities.

The integration of Air Liquide and Airgas is expected to deliver greater value, service and innovation to customers, the company added.

Airgas executive chairman Peter McCausland said: "Airgas customers and employees will benefit from Air Liquide’s unrivalled global footprint and strength in technology, innovation and operational efficiency, while Airgas is ready to bring the entrepreneurial culture and packaged gas excellence that have driven our success to date."

The acquisition is also expected to increase Air Liquide’s Gas & Services sales by around 30%.

The transaction is subject to approval of Airgas shareholders, receipt of necessary antitrust and other regulatory approvals and other customary conditions and provisions.

Upon completion of the deal, Airgas will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Air Liquide.

Air Liquide has been developing plants in North America, Asia and the Middle East in order to process gases used in the chemicals, refining, and electronics industries, reported Bloomberg.

Image: Airgas distributes specialty gases in the US. Photo: courtesy of Dwight Burdette/Wikipedia.