November 30, 2015 / 1:54 PM / 2 years ago

FTC preparing to block Staples-Office Depot deal: NY Post

A shopping cart is seen outside a Staples office supplies store in the Chicago suburb of Glenview, Illinois, February 4, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

(Reuters) - U.S. antitrust regulators are preparing to block Staples Inc’s SPLS.O acquisition of smaller rival Office Depot Inc (ODP.O), the New York Post reported on Sunday.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may again delay its decision on the deal, seeking more concessions from Staples, the Post reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.

The FTC is “ramping up for litigation,” one person told the Post. Two of the four FTC commissioners looking into the deal are believed to oppose it, the newspaper reported.

Staples’ shares fell 1.8 percent to $12.09 in afternoon trading, while Office Depot was down 1.8 percent at $6.63.

Staples’ first attempt to buy Office Depot was blocked by U.S. regulators in 1997.

The deal is also being investigated by EU regulators, who have raised concerns about possible price hikes.

Staples said in October that it had agreed with the FTC to extend the review period for the acquisition. The FTC is expected to decide on the deal by Dec. 8.

Staples and Office Depot are in talks with wholesaler Essendant Inc (ESND.O) to transfer about $600 million of corporate contracts to satisfy U.S. antitrust concerns, the Wall Street Journal reported this month.

Office Depot and a spokeswoman for the FTC declined to comment. Staples representatives were not available for comment.

Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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