News Feature | August 12, 2013

OfficeMax And Office Depot Narrow CEO Search

By Sam Lewis, associate editor
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Merger Agreement

Merged companies expect to announce a new leader in September

Back in February, OfficeMax and Office Depot announced their agreement to merge the companies into one, equal entity. The transaction was approved by stockholders of both companies on July 10. The transaction is expected to be complete by year’s end.

Agreed upon in February, both companies were to undertake an extensive search process — both internally and outside of the companies — to find the most qualified CEO to lead the newly formed office supply company, which separately combined for $18 billion in revenue in 2012. The search began on June 11, when executive search firm Korn/Ferry International was hired to assist the joint company’s CEO selection committee. The committee is co-chaired by Jim Marino of the OfficeMax board — former president and CEO of Alberto Culver Company — and Office Depot board member Nigel Travis — Chairman and CEO of Dunkin’ Brands, Inc.

More than 100 candidates have been reviewed and investigated, 8 of which have been interviewed. The selection committee has whittled down the selection process to five candidates. OfficeMax and Office Depot hope to announce the hiring of a new CEO in September. “Our objective is to have a candidate in place prior to the closing of the merger to address critical issues such as headquarters location, company name, culture, and strategy,” said Travis.

OfficeMax and Office Depot believe the right candidate will have Wall Street credibility and global perspective with a public company, experience as an executive from a Fortune 100 organization, high integrity, team-building experience, and a proven track record as a business integrator.

Starboard Value, LP — an investor in Office Depot’s stock — has suggested several candidates for the CEO position. “It is critical that the CEO selection committee maintain its momentum in the search process. We are very concerned that the disruptive proxy campaign currently being led by Starboard to replace four Office Depot board members, including two that currently sit on the CEO selection committee, if successful, will prove counterproductive to the CEO selection process,” Travis said. “Based on our discussions with Office Depot shareholders, we believe the shareholders do not want to disrupt the CEO search process or in any way impact the value that is attainable from the OfficeMax merger, which this board is intensely focused on delivering.”

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