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Staples-Office Depot merger hopes rise

January 6, 2016

Shares in Office Depot have risen after “renewed optimism” suggested the merger may yet go ahead.Staples store front slider

Bloomberg reported that a lawyer leading the case the Federal Trade Commission, Tara Reinhart, told a judge at an administrative hearing earlier this week that “settlement talks with Staples are continuing”, a “signal that [the] Staples deal remains alive” according to the news outlet. Staples recently called the FTC “misguided” after it rejected the company’s latest offer to divest $1.25 billion (€1.14 billion) of commercial contracts in exchange for approval of the $6.3 billion (€5.8 billion) merger.

This was an upgrade from its previous offer of $600 million (€558 million), after which the FTC filed a lawsuit to block the deal. The two companies previously called the decision to block their merger “flawed”, with a court case likely in March 2016, while the European Commission is also investigating the deal, and has set the deadline of 16 March for a decision, and it has already been approved in Australia, New Zealand and China.

The raised offer was part of Staples’ efforts to “continue talks with the FTC to address the antitrust regulator’s concerns”. The Recycler recently reported there was as yet “no deal” in attempts to allow the merger to proceed, despite early negotiations, but the new developments seem to show “renewed optimism” in the merger being granted, and Office Depot’s shares rose by 5.3 percent after Reinhart’s comments.

Neither company would comment on the latest developments, though Bloomberg also pointed out that Reinhart also stated this week that the FTC is “concerned that the companies are merely transferring contracts and not divesting physical assets” in their divestment offers.

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