Airgas, Inc. has announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire the assets and operations of Houston, Texas-based Aeriform Corporation, an independent distributor with 29 locations in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

The operations to be acquired have about 240 employees and as part of the acquisition, Airgas will offer employment to most of these 240 employees of Aeriform affected by the acquisition.

Aeriform produce annual sales of approximately $65m. About 58 per cent of its revenue comes from gas and rent, with the balance from traditional welding hardgoods.

"This will be a great fit with our core business operations along the Gulf Coast and the Mid South," said Airgas Chairman and CEO Peter McCausland. "The added resources will improve our coverage and help us efficiently deliver better service to customers in this key energy market."

"We are excited about joining Airgas through this transaction, which will offer great opportunities for our customers and our employees," said Michael Stoddard, president and CEO of Aeriform. He added, "Airgas is not only acquiring an outstanding group of customers, but an exceptionally talented team of associates, who have worked very hard over the years to build the company it is today."

"We look forward to welcoming Aeriform associates, and to offering our new customers a broader product range to meet their gases, welding and safety product needs," said Mike Molinini, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Airgas.

The companies expect to close the transaction by September 1 2006, subject to due diligence, customary closing conditions, and regulatory reviews.