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​Lowe's makes another run for Canada's Rona in $2.3B deal

NEW YORK - Lowe's (LOW) is expanding its footprint in Canada with a $2.3 billion acquisition of the home improvement retailer Rona.

It's Lowe's second run for the company. Lowe's made a $1.9 billion bid for Rona in 2012, but that deal never went through.

Chairman and CEO Robert Niblock said in a written statement Wednesday that the acquisition gives Lowe's exposure in Quebec, a province of more than 8 million people, where Lowe's currently has no presence.

Lowe's has had limited operations in Canada since 2007, with stores across Alberto, Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. It has 42 stores and 1 distribution center, with 6,300 employees across the country.

Rona has nearly 500 corporate and independent affiliate dealer stores in Canada and nine distribution centers. Lowe's said that it does not yet have specific details on the branding plans for each Lowe's Canada and Rona store, but it does plan on maintaining multiple retail brands.

The deal also strengthens Lowe's in its fight for market share with rival Home Depot, which announced Wednesday that it was hiring 80,000 workers this spring.

Home Depot Inc. has 182 stores in Canada.

It is not clear if Lowe's will close any stores to avoid overlap, but it said that much of Rona's management team and the majority of its workers will remain. Rona has more than 17,000 employees in corporate stores and more than 5,000 workers in the stores of its independent affiliate dealers.

Lowe's Cos., based in Mooresville, North Carolina, will have its Canadian head office in Boucherville, Quebec. The Canadian operations will be run by Lowe's Canada President Sylvain Prud'homme.

The boards of both companies have approved the deal.

A special meeting of Rona shareholders to approve the transaction is expected to be held before the end of the first quarter. Lowe's said that it expects to close on the acquisition within the second half of this year.

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