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Staples' and Office Depot's Very Futures Could Be Decided Tuesday

Staples (SPLS - Get Report) and Office Depot (ODP - Get Report) may soon know if their hoped-for merger will be approved. If so, the merger will allow them to compete more effectively against online behemoth Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) . If not, they'll be forced to resume operating as bitter rivals with bleak futures.

According to Office Depot CEO Roland Smith, District Judge Emmet Sullivan is expected to announce a decision Tuesday on whether the two office supply giants will be allowed to proceed with their government-contested merger.

Sullivan oversaw some three weeks of testimony between lawyers for Office Depot and Staples and the Federal Trade Commission, which ended on April 21. The long-serving judge, who has a track record of being tough on government lawyers, challenged how the FTC prepared a witness statement, whether it shared certain information with the companies and why it didn't allege harm to consumers.

The FTC fired back that the merger would harm competition to corporate customers -- not retail...