European regulators have approved Staples Inc.’s proposed buyout of Office Depot. Staples, the parent company of Top 40 distributor Staples Promotional Products (asi/120601), agreed to sell several of Office Depot’s European operations, including its contract distribution business as well as all operations in Sweden. Staples will also divest Office Depot’s European retail, online and catalog operations.
“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.
Two months ago, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint to block the $6.3 billion deal, citing concerns that it would reduce the competition for office supply contracts in the United States. The companies had proposed to divest $1.25 billion in contracts in the b-to-b segment, but the FTC rejected the offer. Staples has said it is interested in continuing discussion with the FTC to assuage its concerns.
In addition to Europe, the merger has been approved in Australia, New Zealand and China. Canada’s Competition Bureau is still reviewing the acquisition. “Regulatory agencies around the world understand that this acquisition will allow Staples to provide increased value and service to customers of all sizes,” said Ron Sargent, chairman and CEO of Staples. “We look forward to a full, impartial judicial review in the United States.”