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Staples Said to Rebuff Cerberus; Sycamore Still in Running

The Framingham, Massachusetts-based chain this week turned down the bid from Cerberus, which valued the company at more than its current market value of about $5.8 billion.

(Bloomberg)—Staples Inc. has rejected a takeover offer from Cerberus Capital Management as too low, leaving  Sycamore Partners in the running to acquire the office-supplies retailer, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Framingham, Massachusetts-based chain this week turned down the bid from Cerberus, which valued the company at more than its current market value of about $5.8 billion, said the people, who asked not to be identified because talks are private.

No final decisions have been made and past bidders could re-emerge along with new ones, the people said. Representatives for Cerberus, Sycamore and Staples declined to comment.

Staples shares rose as much as 6.5 percent and traded up 3.3 percent at $9.07 at 12:37 p.m. in New York.

Staples began considering a sale amid buyout interest after U.S. regulators  blocked a deal to buy smaller rival Office Depot Inc. last year, over concerns it would have created an unrivaled giant. This month, Staples reported its first-quarter sales dropped 4.9 percent from the previous year to $4.1 billion as it closed 18 stores in North America during that period. It said it ended the quarter with 1,237 stores in the U.S. and 304 in Canada.

New York-based Cerberus last year agreed to buy a controlling stake in Staples’s European business, with annual sales of about 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 billion) from operations in 16 countries, according to a statement at the time. The firm, led by billionaire Steve Feinberg, manages more than $30 billion in private equity holdings, distressed debt and other credit assets, as well as real estate, according to the company’s website.

Sycamore, founded by Stefan Kaluzny and Peter Morrow, raised $2.5 billion for its second fund in 2014. Focusing exclusively on consumer companies, Sycamore’s biggest acquisition to date is department-store chain Belk Inc., which it bought for $2.7 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The buyout firm is still in talks to raise financing for a potential Staples buyout, the people said.

--With assistance from Matt Townsend.To contact the reporters on this story: Aaron Kirchfeld in London at [email protected] ;Kiel Porter in New York at [email protected] ;Ed Hammond in New York at [email protected] To contact the editors responsible for this story: Elizabeth Fournier at [email protected] Michael Hytha

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