Hedge Funds

Ackman strikes again? Air Products looks for new CEO

Bill Ackman
Scott Eelis | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Nearly two months after activist investor William Ackman took a $2.2 billion stake in Air Products & Chemicals, the company said Thursday that a "CEO search will commence promptly" because Chairman and CEO John McGlade plans to retire in 2014.

Air Products also announced it will add three new independent directors to its board immediately.

In a press release, Pershing Square hedge fund chief Ackman is quoted as saying: "We invested in Air Products because it is a great business in an industry with excellent long-term prospects. In recent weeks, we have been delighted to get to know John and the rest of the board working with them on their mission of continuous improvement and long-term shareholder value creation. We look forward to a successful long- term partnership."

Ackman's 9.8 percent position in $22 billion industrial gas company was first reported by CNBC on July 31. (Flashback: Activist investor Ackman makes his biggest bet ever)

Some of the diverse businesses of Air Products include supplying industrial gases, performance materials, equipment and technology used in industries from steel production to food processing to electronics.

Similar to the railroad industry, where Ackman has had much success in his activist campaign against Canadian Pacific, Air Products has few real competitors, including France's Air Liquide, Germany's Linde, and U.S. company Praxair.

Ackman told "Squawk Box" in July that Air Products is a Warren "Buffett-like business." Earlier that month, Ackman had told investors in a letter that he'd built up a major position in a large-cap, investment-grade U.S. corporation.

By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC.