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Air Products hires Rockwood Chief Executive Seifi Ghasemi as CEO; shares hit all-time high


NEW YORK — Air Products & Chemicals Inc. says that it has hired the chief executive of the chemical company Rockwood Holdings Inc., Seifi Ghasemi, as its chairman and chief executive. He replaces John McGlade, who announced last September his plans to retire this year.

Investors seemed to like the move disclosed Wednesday, briefly sending Air Products' shares to an all-time high.

Air Products produces a variety of gases and related services for the energy, electronics and manufacturing sectors. The company is nearly 10 percent owned by Bill Ackman's Pershing Square hedge fund, making it Air Products' biggest shareholder.

Ghasemi, 69, who will also take on the role of president, will start working at Air Products on July 1.

He had been added as a director of the Air Products' board when McGlade, 60, announced he would step down. McGlade had been CEO since 2007 and joined the company nearly 40 years ago.

Chemical company Rockwood said Ghasemi will remain as chairman of its board until Jan. 1. It named Chief Financial Officer Robert Zatta as Rockwood's acting CEO. Ghasemi has led Rockwood since 2001.

Shares of Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Air Products rose $8.46, or 7 percent, to $130.06 in midday trading, after hitting an all-time high of $131.48 earlier. Shares of Princeton, New Jersey-based Rockwood fell $2.14, or 2.8 percent, to $73.80.

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