updated 1/10/2006 11:27:01 AM ET 2006-01-10T16:27:01

Home Depot Inc., the nation's largest home improvement store chain, said Tuesday it will buy Hughes Supply Inc., a distributor of construction, repair and maintenance products, for about $3.2 billion.

The deal would double the size of the Home Depot Supply division, which serves business customers, such as homebuilders, professional contractors, municipalities and maintenance professionals.

Orlando, Fla.-based Hughes Supply, one of the nation's largest diversified wholesale distributors of construction, repair and maintenance-related products, has more than 500 locations in 40 states.

Home Depot said it will pay $46.50 per outstanding share for Hughes Supply, a premium of nearly 21 percent over Hughes' closing price Monday of $38.55. In addition. Home Depot will assume $285 million in net debt as part of the deal.

Home Depot expects the deal will add to earnings per share within its first year.

"By acquiring Hughes Supply, a company with a long and established reputation for excellence and service, we continue to execute our growth strategy laid out five years ago to enhance our core retail business, extend our business into adjacent areas and expand into new markets," said Bob Nardelli, chairman, president and CEO of Home Depot.

Home Depot will fund the acquisition with a combination of cash on hand and access to debt capital markets through the company's $4 billion shelf registration.

The acquisition is subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.

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