Longer review for Staples, Office Depot FTC had requested more time for antitrust scrutiny


WESTBOROUGH, Mass. -- Staples Inc. and Office Depot Inc. said yesterday that they have agreed with a Federal Trade Commission request to extend the antitrust review in Staples' proposed $4.5 billion purchase of Office Depot.

The Hart-Scott-Rodino waiting period, which was to expire Feb. 25, was pushed back to March 5.

That will give the office-supply retailers time to gather additional information the FTC requested, Staples said in a statement.

The FTC is talking with other companies to see if they are interested in buying stores that might be sold in order for the transaction to get antitrust approval.

The agency wants to know if a viable competitor is willing to buy stores, should the FTC decide that is needed to ensure competition, a person close to the discussions said last week.

FTC lawyers say prices to consumers have fallen in regional markets where both companies have stores and fear that prices will rise if one chain disappears.

Over the weekend, the chains started a series of national advertisements saying that their combination will help consumers by lowering prices.

Westborough, Mass.-based Staples, which offered to buy Office Depot in September, operates 553 office products stores in North America.

Office Depot, which is based in Delray Beach, Fla., operates 571 stores in North America.

Pub Date: 2/18/97

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