Staples, Inc. and Essendant Inc. (NASDAQ: ESND) today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which an affiliate of Staples, the world’s largest office solutions provider, will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Essendant common stock for $12.80 per share in cash, or a transaction value of $996 million including net debt.
The transaction follows the determination by Essendant’s Board of Directors, after consultation with Essendant’s legal and financial advisors, that the Staples proposal constituted a “Superior Proposal” as defined in Essendant’s previously announced merger agreement to combine with Genuine Parts Company’s (NYSE: GPC) (“GPC”) S.P. Richards business (the “S.P. Richards agreement”). Consistent with that determination, and following the expiration of the three-day waiting period during which GPC did not propose any amendments to the S.P. Richards agreement, Essendant terminated that agreement. In connection with the termination, GPC is entitled to a $12 million break-up fee, which Staples is paying as part of its agreement with Essendant.
“We are excited about the opportunity to move forward with this agreement, and to work with the Essendant team to complete the partnership of these two great companies, which will ultimately deliver significant value to independent resellers and end customers across the U.S.,” Staples said.
“After carefully evaluating Staples’ revised offer, including taking into account the extended regulatory process and risks associated with the S.P. Richards transaction and the continued challenges presented by the rapidly changing industry dynamics on our ability to realize value in combination with S.P. Richards, we are confident that the Staples transaction is in the best interest of Essendant shareholders,” said Charles Crovitz, Chairman of Essendant. “While our agreement to merge with S.P. Richards presented an attractive opportunity, we believe the Staples transaction provides superior and immediate value to our shareholders.”
Ric Phillips, President and Chief Executive Officer of Essendant added, “We believe combining with Staples provides a tremendous opportunity to enhance our resources and ability to serve customers, while delivering compelling and certain value to shareholders. I want to thank all our associates for their continued commitment and dedication as we have navigated this process over the past several months.”
The $12.80 per share purchase price reflects a 51% premium to Essendant’s share price on April 11, 2018, the day before the company announced plans to merge with GPC’s S.P. Richards business, and a 10.3x multiple of last-twelve-months Adjusted EBITDA.
The transaction will be implemented through a cash tender offer at $12.80 per share. The transaction is conditioned upon, among other things, the number of Essendant shares included in the tender offer, together with the 11.15% of Essendant’s outstanding common shares currently owned by Staples and its affiliates, representing more than 50% of Essendant’s outstanding common shares, expiration of all applicable waiting periods under the Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, and other customary closing conditions. If the tender offer is consummated, the tender offer will be followed by a merger in which any shares of Essendant common stock not purchased in the offer will be converted into the right to receive the same $12.80 per share in cash. The transaction is not subject to a financing condition and is expected to close in the fourth quarter.
Barclays and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC are acting as financial advisors and Kirkland & Ellis LLP is acting legal counsel to Staples. Citigroup Global Markets Inc. is acting as financial advisor and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is acting as legal counsel to Essendant.