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Staples offers price freeze for merger

Staples offers price freeze for merger

April 4, 2016

The US retailer has offered to freeze prices for three years to win apstaplesproval for its merger with Office Depot.

The New York Post reported on the offer from Staples at the US District Court case, where it told Judge Emmet Sullivan it was “open to freezing prices for three years to win regulatory approval” for the merger with Office Depot. The offer was made after “new settlement talks” with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) failed last week, and a former FTC official told the news outlet they believed “these kind of gimmicks are usually used when you are playing with a weak hand”.

In earlier developments in the case, Staples “scored a win” after the FTC was said to have “bungled testimony from a key witness”, with economist Carl Shapiro “supposed to present an analysis showing that Amazon is unlikely to become a real competitor to the combined company”. However, Judge Sullivan stated that he “wouldn’t consider the report”, because the FTC “hadn’t entered it as evidence”.

Last week, the case took a dramatic turn towards approval for the merger, with the New York Post reporting that the merger might go ahead after Sullivan highlighted the FTC’s attempts to pressure Amazon “to lie” about the challenge a combined company might pose. Amazon earlier became embroiled amid rumours of it helping out the merger, while further settlement talks were revealed that came to nothing.

The FTC filed a lawsuit to block the $6.3 billion (€5.8 billion) merger last year, with a divestment offer rejected. Both companies extended their merger agreement to May in January, while the EU recently approved the merger after concessions, while the case last saw Staples’ and Office Depot’s CEOs testify. A decision is expected from Sullivan before 10 May, six days before Staples and Office Depot’s merger agreement expires.

 


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