Report: Private Equity Firm To Buy Staples, Inc.

Staples Inc., parent company of Top 40 distributor Staples Promotional Products (asi/120601), is reportedly on the cusp of being purchased for more than $6 billion by private equity firm Sycamore Partners.

Citing sources familiar with the talks, Reuters reported late Wednesday that Framingham, MA-headquartered Staples and New York-based Sycamore are in advanced negotiations. While uncertainty remains about how things will go, the deal could close as early as next week, Reuters noted. How a sale would impact Staples’ promotional products division remains to be seen.

Talks between Staples and Sycamore began after the private equity firm won out in an auction for the retailer of office supplies. Sycamore beat out another firm, Cerberus Capital Management, and is working to finalize a debt financing package, sources told Reuters.

If Sycamore cements the deal, Staples would become a private company. Currently, Staples is publically traded. News of a sale sent Staples’ shares up 7.6% to $9.32 in pre-market trading on Thursday.

Should the sale go through, it would come about a year after a federal judge prevented Staples from merging with Office Depot in what would have been a $6.3 billion deal. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan sided with regulators who argued that the merger would reduce competition and raise prices, especially in the business-to-business office supply sector.

With its 1,255 stores, Staples has the largest share of office supplies stores in the nation – 48%. Staples also has 304 stores in Canada.

With estimated 2015 North American promotional product sales of $554.1 million, Staples Promotional Products ranked 1st on Counselor’s most recent list of top industry suppliers as determined by revenue. In May, Staples Inc. reported total first quarter sales declined 5%, to $4.1 billion, compared to the same quarter the prior year.