Staples closing in on Office Depot deal

Staples could be on the brink of winning its case against the Federal Trade Commission — possibly clearing the way for it to acquire Office Depot, sources have told The Post.

The judge overseeing the FTC suit against the office supply chain said he will entertain a motion from Staples’ legal team to dismiss the case once the regulator concludes its arguments this week.

When a judge agrees to hear such a move — a judgment as a matter of law — he or she believes the plaintiff or prosecutor has failed to make its case, a lawyer not involved in the case told The Post on Monday.

“I’ve seen such motions, but never when the plaintiff is the government,” the lawyer said.

Judge Emmet Sullivan is not fan of the tactics of Edith Ramirez’s FTC. He ordered a transcript unsealed last week in which Amazon claimed the FTC coached it to lie.

“The judge is either playing games,” in the way he is taking the FTC to task, the lawyer said, “or the FTC is really in big trouble.”

The FTC and Department of Justice have won 9 of their last 10 merger challenges making this even more surprising, the source said.

The FTC in December voted 4-to-0 to block Staples from completing its $6.3 billion acquisition of Office Depot, arguing that the combo would leave no competition and result in higher prices.

The FTC has still not called its star witness Carl Shapiro, the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice.

Staples at present trading levels would be paying about $10 a share for Office Depot if the merger clears, and shares will fall to near $4.50 if the block holds.

Office Depot shares rose 7,7% Monday to $7.44.

By Josh Kosman for www.nypost.com

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