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Staples’ latest offer rejected by FTC

December 22, 2015

staplesThe retailer had offered to divest billions of dollars’ worth of commercial contracts in exchange for approval of the Office Depot deal.

Reuters reported on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rejecting the “raised divestiture offer” from Staples in exchange for approval of the $6.3 billion (€5.8 billion) merger between it and Office Depot, which would have seen the retailer give up $1.25 billion (€1.14 billion) of commercial contracts. This is an upgrade from its previous offer to divest contracts worth $600 million (€558 million) earlier in 2015, but the FTC “rejected the company’s offer without making a counteroffer”, according to Staples.

The raised offer was part of Staples’ efforts to “continue talks with the FTC to address the antitrust regulator’s concerns”, and The Recycler recently reported that there is as yet “no deal” in attempts to allow the merger to proceed, despite early negotiations with the FTC. Interestingly, the case report said that “both parties are amenable to settling the case”, but despite “pre-complaint efforts”, they have not “been able to resolve their different views of the likely effects of the proposed merger”.

The two companies called the FTC’s decision to block their merger “flawed”, with a court case likely in March 2016. The antitrust enforcers filed a lawsuit on 8 December to block the deal, alleging it would eliminate the competition, and the legal case claims the transaction would lead to higher prices and fewer options for big companies buying bulk office supplies. The European Commission is also investigating the deal, and has set the deadline of 16 March for a decision, while it has already been approved in Australia, New Zealand and China.

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