ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) -- Air Products said Thursday that its CEO will retire next year, and that it is adding three new independent directors to its 11-member board.
The company, which produces a variety of gases and related services for the energy, electronics and manufacturing sectors, is nearly 10 percent owned by Bill Ackman's Pershing Square hedge fund, making it Air Products' biggest shareholder.
Air Products said that it will start a search for CEO John McGlade's successor promptly. The board's newly created search committee will be helped in its efforts by an executive search firm.
McGlade, who joined the company in 1976 and took the helm in 2007, will serve as chairman and CEO during the search and remain chairman for a transition period in 2014.
McGlade said in a statement that Air Products had a "constructive" talk with Pershing Square Capital Management about its plans and that the firm is supportive.
Ackman took a stake in Air Products in July, a week after the company adopted a shareholder rights plan to ward off any takeover attempts after it noticed unusual activity in its stock.
Air Products & Chemicals Inc. named Edward Monser, Matthew Paull and Seifi Ghasemi as board members, effective immediately. They will replace three current directors, who will retire before Air Products' 2014 annual meeting. The retiring board members were not named.
The 69-year-old Ghasemi is chairman and CEO of chemical maker Rockwood Holdings Inc. Monser, 63, is president and chief operating officer of industrial control products company Emerson Electric Co. Paull, 62, was senior vice president and chief financial officer for hamburger chain McDonald's Corp. He retired in 2008.
Monser and Paull will be up for election at the 2014 annual meeting, while Ghasemi will stand for election at the 2015 annual meeting. Air Products typically holds its annual meeting in late January.
The new CEO will also become a director.
Shares of Air Products closed up $2.46, or 2.3 percent, to $109.78, earlier Thursday setting a new 52-week high of $114.75. Shares have gained 31 percent this year.