By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New York — The planned merger of office-supply chains OfficeMax and Office Depot remains on schedule, with the two retailers filing federal regulatory forms and forming transition committees.
In a joint update, the companies said they still expect the merger to close by year’s end, the original target date.
In the latest actions, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has requested additional details and documentation from both chains, and Office Depot has filed an S-4 registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that includes a joint proxy statement detailing the businesses and proposed merger plus an Office Depot prospectus.
The companies said the FTC request was expected and that under federal law the deal could close as soon as 30 days after they comply, or sooner if the agency dispenses with the waiting period. The chains plan to respond promptly to the request, remain optimistic about the regulatory process, and will continue to cooperate with the FTC as it conducts its review of the proposed combination, they said.
Meanwhile, a committee of board members from each chain has been created to oversee the selection process for a new CEO. Both incumbent chief executives — Office Depot chairman/CEO Neil Austrian and Ravi Saligram, president/CEO of OfficeMax — are up for the job, although the committee will also consider outside candidates.
In addition, the retailers have selected key executives from both chains, including Austrian and Saligram and their respective chief financial officers, to oversee the integration planning process for the combined company.
The integration plan will be designed to ensure a “smooth and productive transition,” the companies said, and to realize the projected $400 million to $600 million in annual cost savings by the third year of the merger.
“The formation of the CEO selection committee and launch of our integration planning process represent important steps forward in achieving our vision of an $18 billion global office solutions company,” said Saligram. “We … remain confident in the combined company’s ability to deliver the targeted cost synergies and to more rapidly scale key market innovations.”
Austrian added that bringing executives and board members together will help “build on our culture of collaboration as we move closer to successfully closing the transaction and better competing in this large and rapidly changing industry.”
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