Sale Of Commercial Supply Business Could Let Staples-Office Depot Merger Go Through

One of the barriers to the formation of the StaplesMaxDepot office-supply Voltron has been the commercial supply businesses that both companies run: in addition to running retail stores, they both also do business delivering office supplies to corporate clients. One possibility could let the mega-merger go forward: Staples could sell its commercial supply business to competitor Essendant.

That’s a possibility presented in a research note from investment analysts at Bank of America, who have discussed what might happen with contacts in the industry. The Federal Trade Commission has reportedly approached Essendant with the option of acquiring that part of Staples.

As far as we know, that is the main hurdle for the merger; both chains have closed stores in areas where their business overlaps. Office Depot plans to close 400 stores by the end of next year whether the merger goes through or not.

Staples and Office Depot are the largest and second-largest commercial office suppliers respectively, and are truly national distributors, unlike third-place finisher and perennial New York Yankees advertiser W.B. Mason.

Well, okay, but who’s Essendant? The company used to be called United Stationers, and has made some large acquisitions recently with its eye on more. Essendant is a competitor, but not a major one, and is looking to expand its business in the wholesale office supplies market.

Of course, the FTC declined to comment to Bloomberg Business.

Staples Is Seen Getting Antitrust Clearance by Forging Side Deal [Bloomberg]