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AAA  Feb. 22, 2013
Mergers on the rise
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Companies are buying each other at the fastest pace since before the Great Recession. The latest deal came Wednesday when office-supply retailers Office Depot and OfficeMax agreed to combine in an all-stock deal worth $1.2 billion.

One of the reasons activity is picking up is that interest rates are near record lows, making financing cheap. Companies are also sitting on piles of cash. Those in the Standard and Poor's 500 index hold nearly $1 trillion on their books. Also, after years of slashing expenses and squeezing more work out of remaining staff, companies are struggling to grow earnings.

So far this year, deals worth a total $225 billion have been announced. That's more than double the level over the same period last year, according to Dealogic. It's slightly behind the same period in 2007, which is notable because that turned into a record year as the value of deals climbed to $1.6 trillion.

Associated Press
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