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Staples, Inc. (SPLS), Office Depot Inc (ODP): Jeff Smith is Bullish on These Companies; Will He Push for a Merger?

In fact, analysts from Credit Suisse, a couple of months ago, discussed the idea of a merger between Office Depot and Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS). However, such a deal might face some criticism from antitrust regulators, since both companies represent some of the biggest players in the segment. It might even be the case that in the even of a merger, the combined company might be forced to cut the number of stores. By the way, Office Depot Inc (NASDAQ:ODP) and Staples tried to combine back in 1997, but the $4 billion deal was temporarily blocked by a Federal Judge and fell through soon after that.

During the third quarter, the number of funds holding shares of Office Depot Inc (NASDAQ:ODP), among investors that we track, dropped to 34 from 35 in the previous quarter, while the aggregate value of their stakes declined by $52.65 million to $528.33 million. At the same time, 31 funds disclosed holding shares of Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS), down by four funds over the quarter, but the aggregate value of shares held by these funds went up by $104.62 million to $828.30 million. One of the largest investors in Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS), aside from Starboard, is Richard S. Pzena’s Pzena Investment Management, which holds 33.31 million shares as of the end of September. Office Depot Inc (NASDAQ:ODP) has seen an increase in bullish sentiment from several big players on Wall Street such as Steve Cohen, whose fund Point72 Asset Management raised its stake by 2% during the third quarter to 6.70 million shares and Israel Englander of Millennium Management, which boosted its position to 2.99 million shares, from 32,700 shares.

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