According to an Air Products filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), on the 16th May 2018 Corning F. Painter, Executive Vice-President, Industrial Gases of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., informed the company that he will depart in order to pursue other opportunities.

Air Products Executive Vice-President Corning F. Painter

Air Products Executive Vice-President Corning F. Painter

In connection with Painter’s departure, the company and Painter entered into a Transition and Separation Agreement. Painter will receive a cash severance payment of $2,582,005 and will be eligible to receive a severance bonus payment of $1,000,000 if the company completes a business development project before 31st December 2019.

Painter joined Air Products in 1984 as part of the company’s Career Development Programme, and gradually rose through the ranks to become a senior-level executive. He holds a BS degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and is a Certified Professional Engineer in Pennsylvania.

Painter will depart Air Products effective 31st July 2018.

Tackling the rate of change – An interview with Air Products’ Corning F. Painter

rob cockerill

Intriguing times in the Americas…

What an interesting time to be in the industrial gases business, and particularly so in the Americas region.

This news of Corning Painter’s departure from Air Products this week is the second big executive departure to be disclosed in as many months in the US.

It may have slipped under the radar a little, but Praxair also filed a high-level departure with the US SEC of late, related to former Executive Vice-President Scott Telesz. The filing, dated 6th April (2018), explained that Telesz’s time with Praxair ended on 1st May.

These changes also come at a time when the market is about to undergo potentially huge change, for the second time in the last three years.

Many thought Air Liquide’s $13.4bn acquisition of Airgas in 2016 was the final flourish in mega M&A in the industry, a deal that changed the face of the leadership of the industry in terms of market share and created a new leader altogether in the North American market.

Then came the dramatic news last summer of a prospective merger of equals between Praxair, Inc. and Linde AG – potentially changing the game yet again, but on an even bigger scale. The $70bn merger of Praxair and Linde will lead to a combined entity – Linde plc – that usurps Air Liquide as the leading force in the global gases business.

gasworld Business Intelligence estimates a combined market share of 33% pre-divestment. With that inevitably comes a sizeable divestment package, creating opportunities for other players to emerge or escalate in prominence.

Whatever the future holds for Painter or Telesz, or any other protagonists in the upper echelons of the industry, and whatever emerges from the ongoing Praxair-Linde merger, it’s an intriguing time for the leadership of the Americas gases business. By the end of this year, we may just have an inkling as to how that will shape up.