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Staples-Office Depot Merger Clears the European Commission, Faces a Tougher Challenge in the U.S.

2/11/16 3:11 PM EST
The European Commission has approved the merger of Staples Inc. and Office Depot Inc., but the resolution of antitrust concerns in the European Union does not look like an indicator for the U.S. outcome, despite some similarity in regulators' concerns, The Deal's Scott Stuart reported. The companies said Wednesday that they reached an agreement in Europe including an agreement to divest the contract distribution business of Office Depot in the European Economic Area, and the entire Office Depot business in Sweden. Staples announced a deal to buy Office Depot in February of last year. The merger has cleared other jurisdictions, including China. The EC review focused on the effects of the planned merger on large business customers in Europe determining that the deal would result in particular competitive problems in markets for national contracts with large business customers in the Netherlands and Sweden. The focus of the Federal Trade Commission's objection to the merger in U.S. markets is similar. The FTC complaint states that by a wide margin Staples and Office Depot are the primary vendors of consumable office supplies to large businesses in a two-player national market. Documents of the companies enforce the idea that on a national scale the two companies price against each other and that the merger would eliminate this competition. The FTC process is scheduled to culminate in a hearing beginning May 10.
Stocks in this video: SPLSODP
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