Following the news that Air Products has extended its unsolicited tender offer, Airgas has issued the latest retort in the ongoing saga - underlining its unswerving reluctance to the deal.

It was certainly no April Fool when Air Products extended the expiration date of its tender offer for all outstanding common shares of Airgas, Inc. on 1st April.

And Airgas clearly wasn't humoured by the move either. as the company served yet another notice of its unswerving intentions.

Last week saw Air Products announce that it had extended the expiration date of its tender offer for all outstanding common shares of Airgas for $60.00 per share all in cash. The offer and withdrawal rights are now scheduled to expire at 12:00 midnight New York City time on 4th June 2010, unless further extended.

The tender offer was previously scheduled to expire at 12:00 midnight New York City time on 9th April 2010.

There's little sign of a ceasefire just yet though, with Airgas swiftly issuing a counter-statement.

In a press release later that day, the company explained, $quot;Our Board of Directors continues to believe that Air Products' unsolicited offer grossly undervalues the company and its future prospects, including our industry leading position in the packaged gas business, our unrivaled platform, and our substantial recent investments.$quot;

$quot;We remain focused on executing our business strategies so that our stockholders can realise significant benefits as the economy continues to improve.$quot;

The statement ominously concluded, $quot;We appreciate the support we have received and, going forward, encourage all Airgas stockholders not to tender their shares into Air Products' opportunistic and inadequate offer.$quot;

Battle lines drawn
The two statements of intent are just the latest development in a hostile takeover proposition that appears set to continue long into the summer.

Battle lines have been drawn between the two companies for some time already, since 5th February in fact, when Air Products made its third and very public unsolicited tender. It might be suggested that the hostility stretches even further back, given the decline of Air Products' previous two offers.

gasworld understands, that some sources are inclined to think that a revised offer in the region of $65 per share might make Airgas take a re-think. However, there is much specualtion at this point.

Airgas continues to rebuff the overtures of its fellow Tier 1 industrial gas major, and appears reluctant to cede ground.

One thing seems certain however: with the extension of Air Products' offer until early June, there could yet be plenty of mileage in this particular case of M&A.