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FTC moves to block Staples-Office Depot merger

December 8, 2015

Staples_store webAntitrust enforcers this week filed a lawsuit to block Staple’s acquisition of its rival, alleging it would eliminate the competition.

The legal case by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) claims the transaction would lead to higher prices and fewer options for big companies buying bulk office supplies, Wall Street Journal reported.

All four FTC commissioners approved the lawsuit, and the two companies have already responded that the case is “based on a flawed analysis and misunderstanding of the intense competitive landscape in which Staples and Office Depot compete”.

This is the second time the FTC has moved to block a merger between the two companies, and last time, in 1997, it won the ruling. The commission did allow Office Depot to merge with OfficeMax in 2013 as the industry had evolved with the development of the internet, but this time the lawsuit focuses on big national business accounts served by the two retailers, rather than everyday retail clients.

The publication also reported that Canadian antitrust officials have now filed a legal challenge blocking the deal, alleging it would harm businesses, nonprofits, governments, health-care organizations and schools.

The European Commission is also investigating the deal, and has set the deadline of 16 March for a decision. It has already been approved in Australia, New Zealand and China.

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