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Corp. Express Shares Fall as Staples Goes Hostile

Shares in Dutch office goods supplier Corporate Express slipped on Tuesday after U.S. office supplies retailer Staples launched a hostile 1.5 billion euro ($2.3 billion) bid for the firm.

Corporate Express shares closed 0.1 percent lower at 8.11 euros, slightly above the 8 euros per share that Staples is offering for the firm in a bid that the Dutch firm has rejected as too low and as failing to reflect its prospects.

The Amsterdam blue-chip index was down 1.8 percent.

Staples said late on Monday that shareholders could tender their shares from Tuesday until June 27, subject to a possible extension and said it would declare its offer unconditional if it could obtain at least 75 percent of the ordinary shares.

Last week, Staples said it was raising its bid from an initial 7.25 euros per share, prompting Corporate Express to say it was willing to talk although the bid was still too low.

Analysts have suggested Staples might have to raise its offer to as much as 9 euros per share to succeed.

"We do not believe that this offer will enable Staples to obtain tenders for the required 75 percent," SNS Securities said in a note to clients.

"A 9 euros offer would mean that Corporate Express shareholders share in the significant cost savings that can be realized."

A tie-up between a retailer and wholesaler of office supplies would make strategic sense and could lead to big savings at a time when both companies are trying to deal with a downturn in the U.S. economy, analysts have said.

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