Staples to Take Over Dutch Office Supply Firm

Corporate Express NV, a Dutch office supplies distributor, has agreed to a takeover bid by Staples Inc. The board of Corporate Express agreed to the takeover after Staples raised its offer for the fourth time. Staples will pay $14.36 a share for a total purchase price of $2.37 billion. By agreeing to the Staples bid, Corporate Express backed away from its plan to merge with French company Lyreco. Under terms of the deal, Staples will assume about 1.1 billion euros of Corporate Express debt. Corporate Express CEO Peter Ventress will assume the position of president of Staples International and will help facilitate the integration of the companies. The takeover will boost Staples’ North American delivery unit, the firm’s most profitable and fastest growing sector. The parties expect settlement of the offer to be completed in July. For Corporate Express, it marks the end of a period of uncertainty about its future. While considering the merger with Lyreco, the company also had internal debates regarding what avenue–merger, sale or corporate restructure–would be in its best interest. Each company noted in the release their eagerness to work with the other, nothing their dovetailing business models and corporate philosophies. Ventress noted that Staples’ increased offer was “a good one for our shareholders and we recommend it wholeheartedly.” Staples has been affected by 2008’s weak economic climate. It reported a decrease in North American in-store sales for the fourth consecutive quarter last month. The North American delivery sector and strong overseas sales compensated for its diminishing returns on retail stores by delivering strong sales to help the company post profits in the first quarter, reversing a trend of losses in the previous two quarters. International sales have recently been boosted by the favorable currency market.