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Staples Ups Bid for Corporate Express

Amsterdam Staples increased its chances of winning control of Corporate Express NV on Tuesday, raising its all-cash bid for the Dutch company to 1.7 billion euros ($2.7 billion), according to the Associated Press.

Staples lifted its offer to 9.15 euros a share from the 8 euros it bid last month, contingent on Corporate Express shareholders rejecting the Dutch company's plan announced last month to buy privately owned French peer Lyreco.

Holders of about 23.3% of Corporate Express, a wholesaler of office products, have committed to accept the offer, Staples said in a statement.

Corporate Express said it would carefully review the new offer and make a further announcement in due course, in contrast to its outright rejection of Staples' previous bids.

The Dutch company earlier on Tuesday urged its shareholders to vote for its 1.7 billion euro takeover of Lyreco, seen as a defense against the unsolicited Staples bid, and reiterated its view that the earlier bid undervalued the company.

Staples said its new bid values Corporate Express at 9.7 times enterprise value against projected 2008 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) and was at a 116% premium to the share price on Feb. 4, the day before market talk surfaced of a potential offer for the Dutch company.

Staples originally bid 7.25 euros per share in February.

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