Air Products (NYSE:APD) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John E. McGlade announced plans this morning to retire in 2014.

On Thursday, the specialty gases company explained that with McGlade planning to leave the company (but to remain Chairman of the Board for at least a short transition period), it will be starting a search to find a successor CEO. Assisting with this task will be three new independent directors that the company has appointed to help it provide "best-in-class corporate governance and leadership succession planning to ensure the Air Products Board and management has the appropriate experience and expertise to deliver long-term value for Air Products shareholders."

The new independent directors include:

  • Matthew Paull, the former chief financial officer of McDonald's,
  • Edward L. Monser, current president and chief operating officer of Emerson Electric, and
  • Seifi Ghasemi, current chairman and chief executive officer of Rockwood Holdings.

In a statement, Air Products noted that activist investor and company largest-shareholder Pershing Square is "supportive of the actions our Board is announcing today." In an accompanying statement, Pershing Square CEO Bill Ackman noted: "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."

Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Emerson Electric Co. and McDonald's. The Motley Fool owns shares of McDonald's. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.