By Karlee Weinmann, staff writer at Law360: When Staples Inc. confirmed Wednesday that it would swallow rival Office Depot Inc., it was careful to strip any credit from the activist investor that pitched the transaction after surfacing in both retailers’ stocks in December. The companies made clear they sidled up to the bargaining table to discuss the $6.3 billion cash-and-stock play in September, long before Starboard Value LP — one of the most prolific activist funds in today’s marketplace — publicly pitched a mirror image of the transaction last month. Staples and Office Depot didn’t mention the activist by name in their deal announcement, instead taking pains to distance themselves from the fund’s high-profile merger campaign and doing their best to push Starboard to the sidelines.
“At the end of the day, [activists are] making billions on these deals,” said Jonathan Morgan, a deals analyst at The Edge Consulting Group. “Even though they may have some egos, once the benefits come on the monetary side, that’s the upside at the end of the day.”