Office Depot-OfficeMax deal get antitrust nod

Friday, 1 Nov 2013 | 9:25 AM ET

NEW YORK, Nov 1 (Reuters) - A deal to combine No. 2 U.S. office supply retailer Office Depot Inc with smaller rival OfficeMax Inc has won approval from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the companies said in a joint statement on Friday.

In February, Office Depot proposed to buy OfficeMax in a $976 million all-stock deal to cut costs, consolidate stores, boost clout with suppliers and improve chances of fighting Staples Inc and online and discount rivals.

The deal raised the ghost of a famous antitrust case - the proposed deal to merge Staples with Office Depot. The FTC challenged the deal in court in 1997 and a judge ruled that it would lead to higher prices for shoppers. It was scrapped.

But some antitrust experts and many on Wall Street had said that FTC concerns from 1997 did not apply this time around as the retail landscape has changed markedly in 16 years, especially due to the rise of online sales.

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