European Commission Approves Staples’ Acquisition of Office Depot, With Conditions
Following an in-depth review, the European Commission has approved the acquisition of office supplies distributor Office Depot by Staples, subject to the divestment of Office Depot’s contract distribution business in Europe and its entire business in Sweden.
The Commission’s investigation focused on the effects of the transaction in the international contract sales channel as well as in the national contract sales channel in the Netherlands and Sweden.
The Commission’s preliminary investigation revealed concerns that the takeover could lead to price increases and less choice. The preliminary investigation indicated potential competition concerns in the market for the supply of office products to business customers through international contracts in the European Economic Area, as well as in the market for the supply of office products to business customers through national contracts in the Netherlands and Sweden.
The preliminary investigation has also indicated possible competition concerns with regard to the wholesale of office products in Sweden, where the merging parties appears to have no significant competitors offering a wide portfolio of products.
Following the in-depth investigation, the Commission concluded that the conditions imposed on the merger remove the overlap between the merging companies in all markets where concerns were raised, ensuring that an important alternative will remain available on these highly concentrated markets.
“The substantial remedies package offered will ensure that effective competition is maintained, in particular on the EU’s international office supplies market,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy. “This will allow European companies to continue to benefit from the single market by procuring their office supplies internationally and to reduce costs.”