UPDATE 1-Del. judge expected to rule Feb. 8 in Airgas case
* Ruling date not set in stone - judge
* Ruling had been expected as early as Thursday
NEW YORK, Jan 27 (Reuters) - A Delaware judge is expected rule Feb. 8 on Airgas Inc's (ARG.N) use of a poison pill to ward off a $5.9 billion hostile takeover offer from Air Products and Chemicals Inc (APD.N), according to a source familiar with the matter.
The ruling from Delaware Chancellor William Chandler had been expected as soon as Thursday, when a second round of hearings in the long-running case ended.
Chandler said he expects to rule Feb. 8, but noted that date is not set in stone.
The source is not authorized to speak on the record.
Chandler first held hearings on the poison pill last fall, but scheduled a second round of hearings for this week to gather more material for his final ruling. [ID:nN23159728]
The ruling is expected to have wide-ranging implications on the use of poison pills in other acquisition battles.
A poison pill effectively lets shareholders increase the total share count at a discount to ward off a potential acquisition.
Shares of Airgas rose 0.5 percent to $62.26 in afternoon trading, while shares of Air Products fell 0.55 percent to $86.44.
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder, editing Bernard Orr)
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