Merger of Office Depot, OfficeMax Approved

Antitrust regulators will allow it


Office Depot Inc.'s purchase of OfficeMax Inc. won approval from U.S. antitrust regulators, clearing the way for the office-supply companies to create a single retailer to compete with Staples Inc.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission voted to close its seven-month investigation into the merger, saying online retailing ensured competition in the market for office supplies, according to a statement today.

The agency said the market has changed significantly since 1997, when it derailed Staples's acquisition of Office Depot as anticompetitive. Consumers today rely on retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and online shopping for office supplies, the commission said.