BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — No decision has been made on the new headquarters location for a combined Office Depot and Office Max following an announcement Wednesday that the two companies will combine in “a merger of equals.” Both companies — hammered by online retailers like Amazon.com and industry leader Staples — believe that a combination of their companies will provide shareholders with increased earning potential and a greater foothold in the office supply sector.
Office Depot (NYSE:ODP) is baed in Boca Raton. OfficeMax (NYSE:OMX) in Naperville, Ill. The future of both company’s corporate staffs remains unclear.
The companies issued a joint press release:
OfficeMax Incorporated (NYSE:OMX) and Office Depot, Inc. (NYSE:ODP) today announced the signing of a definitive merger agreement under which the companies would combine in an all-stock merger of equals transaction intended to qualify as a tax-free reorganization. The transaction, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of both companies, will create a stronger, more efficient global provider better able to compete in the rapidly changing office solutions industry. Customers will benefit from enhanced offerings across multiple distribution channels and geographies. The combined company, which would have had pro forma combined revenue for the 12 months ended December 29, 2012 of approximately $18 billion, will also have significantly improved financial strength and flexibility, with the ability to deliver long-term operating performance and improvements through its increased scale and significant synergy opportunities.
Under the terms of the agreement, OfficeMax stockholders will receive 2.69 Office Depot common shares for each share ofOfficeMax common stock.
“In the past decade, with the growth of the internet, our industry has changed dramatically. Combining our two companies will enhance our ability to serve customers around the world, offer new opportunities for our employees, make us a more attractive partner to our vendors, and increase stockholder value,” said Neil Austrian, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer ofOffice Depot. “Office Depot and OfficeMax share a similar vision and culture, and will greatly benefit from drawing on the industry’s most talented people, combining our best practices and realizing significant savings. We are confident that this merger of equals represents a new beginning for our two companies and will allow us to build a more competitive enterprise for the long term.”
“We are excited to bring together two companies intent on accelerating innovation for our customers and better differentiating us for success in a dynamic and highly competitive global industry,” said Ravi Saligram, President and CEO of OfficeMax. “We are confident that there will be exciting new opportunities for employees as part of a truly global business. Together, we will have the opportunity to build on our strong digital platforms and to expand our multichannel capabilities to better serve our customers and to compete more effectively. Importantly, this merger of equals transaction will provide stockholders of both companies with a compelling opportunity to participate in the long-term upside potential of the combined company.”
Companies Expect Strategic Combination To Create Long-Term Stockholder Value
Key strategic benefits of the transaction include:
- Merger of Equals Structure: OfficeMax and Office Depot will have equal representation and governance rights on the combined company’s Board of Directors and equal input on key decisions. With an all-stock merger, OfficeMax andOffice Depot stockholders will benefit proportionately from the synergies achieved as a combined company.
- Enhanced Financial Performance: The combined company is positioned to deliver long-term operating improvement, with greater potential for earnings expansion and improved cash flow generation.
- Significant Synergy Opportunities: The merger is expected to deliver $400-$600 million in annual cost synergies by the third year following the transaction’s close by leveraging both operating and G&A efficiencies.
- Financial Strength and Flexibility: On a pro forma basis as of December 29, 2012, the combined company would have had more than $1 billion in cash on hand and more than $1 billion available through revolving credit facilities, giving it the flexibility to invest in both its current business and future growth opportunities.
- Increased Scale and Competitiveness: The combined company will be well positioned to optimize its shared multichannel sales platform and distribution network, primarily in North America. Together, the companies will provide a wide array of services and solutions that enable customers to work more efficiently and productively. By implementing best practices in sales, operations and management, the combined company is expected to be better able to compete with the many online retailers, warehouse clubs and other traditional retailers that are placing a greater emphasis on office product sales.
- Broader Global Footprint: The merger will combine the two companies’ complementary international businesses, with minimal overlap, strengthening the combined company’s ability to serve customers around the world.
- Improved Customer Experience to Build Brand Loyalty: Consumers and business-to-business customers are increasingly demanding a seamless omnichannel experience across retail stores, direct sales, telesales and digital environments. By integrating these touchpoints effectively, the combined company expects to build lasting brand loyalty.
- Accelerated Innovation: Both companies anticipate sharing customer insights and learnings from innovative pilot programs underway to better identify and fulfill evolving customer needs.
Following the closing, the combined company’s newly constituted Board of Directors will include equal representation and governance rights from each of the two companies. The parties have also agreed to form a selection committee made up of an equal number of independent Board members from each company that will oversee the search process for naming the CEO for the combined company. Both incumbent CEOs, as well as external candidates, will be considered in the search process. Neil Austrian, the Chairman and CEO of Office Depot, and Ravi Saligram, the President and CEO of OfficeMax will remain in their current positions through the completion of the search process.
The combined company’s management team is expected to draw upon the experienced group of leaders from both companies. The combined company’s name, marketing brands and corporate headquarters location are expected to be determined following the appointment of the CEO for the combined company.
The transaction is expected to close by the end of calendar year 2013, subject to stockholder approval from both companies, the receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.
Under the merger agreement, OfficeMax will have the ability to declare and pay to its common stockholders aggregate cash dividends of up to $131 million ($1.50 per common share) before the closing of the transaction. Payment of dividends would not affect the exchange ratio in the transaction.
In connection with the transaction, BC Partners, Inc. and its affiliates, which hold preferred stock representing approximately 22 percent of Office Depot on an as-converted basis, have agreed to vote in favor of the merger. In addition, BC Partners has agreed that as of the closing, its remaining equity stake will consist of common shares representing an amount no more than 5 percent of the voting capital stock of the combined company as a result of the combination of the redemption of preferred shares, conversion to common shares and open market sales of such common shares and repurchases by Office Depot. Following the closing, BC Partners will have no Board designees or other contractual governance rights related to the combined company.
J. P. Morgan Securities LLC served as exclusive financial advisor to OfficeMax, and provided a fairness opinion to the Board of OfficeMax, and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Dechert LLP acted as legal counsel to OfficeMax.
Peter J. Solomon Company, L.P. and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC acted as financial advisors and provided fairness opinions to theBoard of Office Depot, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP acted as legal counsel to Office Depot. Kirkland & Ellis acted as legal counsel to the Board of Office Depot.
In connection with the transaction, Perella Weinberg Partners acted as financial advisors to the Transaction Committee of Office Depot’s Board of Directors and Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as the Committee’s legal advisor.
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