The European Commission (EC) will investigate the acquisition of office supplies distributor Office Depot by its competitor Staples.
The Commission has concerns that the takeover could lead to price increases and less choice.
Both Staples and Office Depot are active in the distribution of office products via a number of sales channels, including wholesale, retail, direct sales (online and catalogue) and national or international supply contracts. The commission’s preliminary investigation indicated potential competition concerns in the market for the supply of office products to business customers through international contracts in the European Economic Area (EEA), as well as in the market for the supply of office products to business customers through national contracts in the Netherlands and Sweden. The customers of office supplies include companies in the private sector and public administrations.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, commented: "All companies and organisations, big or small, need office supplies for their daily work. We are opening this in-depth investigation to make sure that the merger of two of the main suppliers of office products will not have a negative effect on competition."
The Commission's says that the transaction could eliminate an important competitor and reduce the choice of suitable suppliers in already concentrated markets, which could lead to price increases.
The preliminary investigation has also indicated possible competition concerns with regard to the wholesale of office products in Sweden, where the merging parties appears to have no significant competitors offering a wide portfolio of products.
The Commission now has 90 working days, until 10 February 2016, to take a final decision.