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Staples to buy Corporate Express

The deal will give the U.S. retailer a broader reach in Europe.

June 12, 2008|From the Associated Press

AMSTERDAM — Dutch office supplies distributor Corporate Express accepted a sweetened buyout offer Wednesday of about $2.7 billion from Staples Inc., the U.S. office supplies retailer.

Staples, which doggedly pursued the deal to broaden its reach in Europe, raised its offer three times, the last two after Corporate Express made a bid for Lyreco of France in a defensive maneuver. Corporate Express is calling off that deal.

The board of Corporate Express said it decided to endorse the Staples deal and recommend it to shareholders after the U.S. company raised its offer to 9.25 euros ($14.36) per share, up from the previous bid of 9.15 euros.

"I think the paper clip wars are over, and it's a win for both sides," Staples Chairman and Chief Executive Ron Sargent said.

Sargent said the final step up in price "was a small price to pay for the full support of Corporate Express' management."

Including Corporate Express debt being assumed, Staples said the transaction was valued at about 3.1 billion euros ($4.8 billion).

Staples is the world's largest seller of office supplies on the basis of its strength as a retailer in the U.S. market. Corporate Express is the largest distributor, selling only to companies.

"This acquisition establishes Staples as the world's premier provider of office products to businesses of all sizes," Staples said.

Corporate Express had 2007 sales of $8.8 billion, compared with $19.4 billion for Framingham, Mass.-based Staples.

Shares of Staples rose $1.23 on Wednesday to $24.38.

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