Staples, Office Depot to Challenge FTC

From Bloomberg News

Staples Inc. and Office Depot Inc. said they plan to “vigorously contest” the Federal Trade Commission’s decision to block the combination of the two leading operators of office supply superstores.

Staples and Office Depot said they plan to seek an expedited court hearing to resolve the issue before the May 31 expiration of their merger agreement. After that date, either company could opt out of the transaction.

Without an expedited process, it could take at least three months for a federal District Court to decide whether to grant the FTC a preliminary injunction blocking the merger until a trial is held before an FTC administrative law judge.


The FTC is expected to file its antitrust suit this week in a Washington District Court. An FTC spokeswoman said Monday that the agency didn’t know what day it would file the suit.

A majority of the FTC’s five commissioners said that the agreement, which calls for selling 63 stores to OfficeMax Inc. in markets where Staples and Office Depot are the only two office supply superstores, didn’t resolve concerns that the merger would violate antitrust laws and lead to higher prices.

The merger would create a $10- billion powerhouse with more than 1,000 office supply superstores nationwide. The new company, which was to be known as Staples Office Depot, would be the clear leader in the $185-million office supply market.