Staples, Office Depot deal wins EU approval

Staples’ proposed takeover of Office Depot has been approved by European regulators after the US office supplies retailer agreed to sell some of the European operations of its smaller rival.

The approval comes two months after the US antitrust regulator filed a complaint to block the $6,3-billion deal on concerns that it would reduce competition for nationwide contracts for office supplies in the United States.

Global reaction

Staples said that it agreed to sell Office Depot’s contract distribution business in Europe and all operations in Sweden.

The companies will also divest Office Depot’s retail, online and catalogue operations in Europe.

“The commitments remove the entire overlap between the merging companies in all markets where concerns were raised, thus ensuring that an important alternative will remain available on these highly concentrated markets,” the European Commission said in a statement.

Besides the litigation with the US Federal Trade Commission, the companies are facing heavy scrutiny from the Canadian Competition Bureau.

Staples had said it was willing to continue talks with the FTC to address the regulator’s concerns.

The acquisition has been approved in Australia, New Zealand, China and Europe.

By Foo Yun Chee and Abhijith Ganavaparam for www.reuters.com

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