UPDATE 1-Ackman buys 9.8 pct stake in Air Products - CNBC
* Air Products shares up 3 pct premarket
* Investment valued at $2.2 bln
* Stake is Ackman's largest ever investment by value
July 31 (Reuters) - Activist investor William Ackman has acquired a 9.8 percent stake in Air Products & Chemicals Inc and would have acquired more but for a poison pill adopted last week by the industrial gas producer, CNBC reported on Wednesday.
The stake, valued at $2.2 billion, makes Ackman's firm Pershing Square Capital Management the biggest shareholder in Air Products. Air Products shares were up about 3 percent before the bell.
The investment in Air Products, which has a market capitalization of $22.14 billion, is Ackman's largest ever investment by value, CNBC said.
Air Products last week adopted a shareholders rights plan, or "poison pill", citing unusual activity in its stock.
The plan gives Air Products' existing shareholders the right to buy new shares at a discount if a person or group were to acquire 10 percent of the company without board approval.
Air Products, whose rivals include Praxair Inc, France's Air Liquide SA and Germany's Linde AG , supplies hydrogen and helium, and operates in markets such as semiconductor materials and natural gas liquefaction.
Pershing Square does not intend to press for a break-up of Air Products but instead will push for operational improvements, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier, citing people familiar with the matter. ()
Ackman's investment in Air Products comes even as his billion dollar bet that Herbalife shares would fall looks likely to fail. The nutrition and supplement maker's shares have shot up 33 percent in the last month alone.
However, several other stocks in Pershing Square's portfolio have performed well, especially Procter & Gamble Co, Howard Hughes Corp and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd .
Air Products shares, which have risen 26 percent so far this year, closed at $105.61 on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.