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Jumbo Leveraged Deals Are Back

29 June 2017 by lberuti

Roughly a year ago, SPLS’s (Staples Inc) attempt to buy ODP (Office Depot Inc) for $6.3Bln was thwarted by antitrust regulators. A tough year ensued after its CEO stepped down, during which the company scrambled for a plan B, closing stores and seeking to recast itself as a source of business services. It looks as if these transformation efforts seduced Sycamore though. They announced yesterday night that they are ready to bid $6.9Bln to buy SPLS in what could be the largest LBO announced this year. Even though a deal had been rumoured for some time – it was reported in May that a takeover offer from Cerberus had been rejected because it was too low -, investors initially sent SPLS’s 5-year risk premium soaring 50bps wider at 350bps, as such deals inevitably mean more debt. But soon it transpired that Sycamore, in a similar move to what it did when it bought Jones Group in 2014 and split it in 4 different independent operating companies, could divide SPLS into three different entities: US retail, Canadian retail and corporate-supply business. It inevitably raised the question of where the debt will sit and which entity (or entities) CDS currently referencing SPLS will cover. The answer is not necessarily the most leveraged. The CDS gave up all its widening and more, to close 25bps tighter on the day at 272bps.