In the Matter of Staples/Essendant, Inc., File No. 1810180
The proposed Staples/Essendant merger presents an unacceptable threat to competition. Private equity related mergers deserve heightened scrutiny because private equity funds often remove companies from the markets in which they were situated at time of acquisition, or drastically reduce the scale of their operations, leading to anti-competitive outcomes by reducing the number and scope of firms in a given market. Recent history shows these types of acquisitions increase profits for the equity fund, but this comes at the expense of a company's ability to compete, retain market share, or retain employees. History shows that the equity fund loads the retail company with debt, extracts any remaining value, then leaves it in a condition where it is unable to survive. The FTC should stop the Staples/Essendant merger and generally scrutinize the anti-competitive practices of private equity when assessing private equity-driven mergers.