Office-supply retail giants Staples Inc. and Office Depot Inc. announced Tuesday that they are calling off a proposed $6.3 billion combination after an antitrust fight with the federal government, an ending similar to the two companies' attempt to merge nearly 20 years ago. Office Depot announced that the two companies would terminate their merger agreement on May 16, after a judge Tuesday ruled for the Federal Trade Commission in granting a preliminary injunction halting the deal on antitrust grounds. "While we are respectful of the Court's decision to grant the FTC's request for a preliminary injunction to prevent our merger with Staples, we are disappointed by this outcome and strongly believe that a merger would have benefitted all of our customers in the long term," Office Depot Chief Executive Roland Smith said in Tuesday's announcement, adding the companies would not appeal. Staples and Office Depot also called off a merger attempt in 1997 after the FTC fought it in court. The two stocks were halted in after-hours trading after plunging in response to the judge's decision, with Staples falling more than 10% and Office Depot losing more than 26% before the halt.
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