August 23, 2018

Staples making play for Illinois distributor

Photo/Grant Welker
The Staples headquarters in Framingham. The office retailer is making a bid for an Illinois wholesale supplier, Essendant.

Staples has made a move to buy out an Illinois wholesale supplier of office furniture and other goods, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Stefan Kaluzny, a co-founder of Sycamore Partners, which took Staples private last year, pitched the president and CEO of Essendant, Richard Phillips, on the Framingham retailer's bid for the company. Staples has proposed acquiring all Essendant stock for $11.50 per share, but Kaluzny said Staples could increase its all-cash offer significantly above that.

Essendant shares were trading at above $15 per share on Thursday. When Kaluzny wrote to Phillips on July 31, shares were trading above $16, but shares were in the $13 range in the days prior and was in the $8 range this past spring.

Another bidder, Genuine Parts Co., is also seeking to buy out Essendant.

Staples made a much larger attempted bid for Office Depot that fell apart in 2016. That proposed $6.3-billion deal was called off by both Staples and Office Depot, after which Staples announced it would close dozens of stores.

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