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Air Products adopts anti-takeover plan

LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa. (AP) -- Shares of Air Products & Chemicals Inc. rose 5 percent Thursday after the company announced it had adopted an anti-takeover plan.

Air Products said the so-called stockholder-rights plan wasn't adopted in response to any particular offer or proposal to take control of the company, but it had noticed "unusual and substantial activity" in its stock.

It would kick in if an investor or group acquires 10 percent of the company's stock — 20 percent for institutional investors — before July 24, 2014.

The company said the board believes that the anti-takeover plan "will help promote the fair and equal treatment of all stockholders" and ensure that the board can look out for shareholders' interests if somebody accumulates a large stake.

The shares rose $5.44 to $106 in afternoon trading. They peaked at a 52-week high of $108.66 earlier in the day.

The stock hit a 52-week low of $76.78 last October and has been climbing ever since. The shares rallied strongly in early May, and after a late-June slump, began rising again in early July.

Under a type of plan sometimes called a poison pill, Air Products will give shareholders a preferred stock-purchase right for each share they own at the close of business Aug. 5. If the rights become exercisable, shareholders can pay the strike price to get shares with a market value of twice that price, the company said.

Air Products sells gases to industrial customers. On Tuesday, it reported a 41 percent drop in fiscal third-quarter net income on higher costs, but the profit met Wall Street expectations and revenue topped forecasts. The results from a year ago included a gain on an asset sale.