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 user 2008-06-03 at 10:59:44 am Views: 52
  • #19957{2F98ACD9-AF1C-4B19-BB12-EE1E381EDE01}&dist=msr_11
    Staples raises bid for Corporate Express to $2.6B
    Netherlands — Staples Inc. on Tuesday raised to $2.6 billion its
    hostile bid for Dutch office supplies distributor Corporate Express
    NV.Rather than accepting two previous overtures from Staples, Corporate
    Express last month struck a surprise deal to buy a French competitor,
    Lyreco SAS, which would create an international competitor to
    Staples.The U.S. company has now offered 9.15 euros ($14.21) per share
    or 1.67 billion euros in cash for Corporate Express, up from bids of
    7.25 euros and 8 euros per share.

    Corporate Express shares rose
    5.5 percent to 8.82 euros ($13.70), and are now worth more than twice
    what they were when rumors of a Staples bid began circulating in
    February.In May, Staples pitched its second offer directly to
    shareholders, complaining that Corporate Express’s management was not
    willing to negotiate.”At our increased offer price, there is no
    question that Staples’ offer is the superior choice,” Staples CEO Ron
    Sargent said Tuesday.

    Amsterdam-based Corporate Express said it could not immediately comment.
    Tuesday Framingham, Mass.-based Staples also lowered its threshold for
    acceptance to 51 percent from 75 percent.It said hedge fund Centaurus,
    investment bank New York Capital and asset management firm Halcyon,
    representing 23.3 percent of shares, have already agreed to its offer
    and will vote against the Lyreco deal at a Corporate Express
    shareholders meeting scheduled for June 18.

    Sargent urged other shareholders to follow suit.
    Fernand de Boer of Petercam Bank said in a note on the new bid that it
    was “higher than we expected Staples would go and illustrates Staples
    is willing to pay a strategic premium” for the Dutch company.He said
    Corporate Express should accept the Staples offer because cash-in-hand
    is superior to the debatably better long-term potential of the Lyreco
    merger, which may face regulatory hurdles.However, he advised Corporate
    Express shareholders to sell their shares now because of a significant
    chance the Staples deal would fail, especially if management takes
    “poison pill” measures to thwart Staples, such as issuing new shares to
    delay the process.He noted that, under Dutch bidding rules, Staples
    cannot raise its offer again