OfficeMax, Office Depot Shareholders OK Merger

(Chicago Tribune/MCT) -

OfficeMax Inc. shareholders voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to approve the merger between the office supplies retailer and its Boca Raton, Fla.-based competitor, Office Depot Inc.

The vote was part of a special shareholders’ meeting in Naperville, Ill. that lasted less than 10 minutes. Approximately 85 percent of shares voted on the merger, with 99 percent of them in favor of it, according to OfficeMax chairman Rakesh Gangwal.

At the same time in Florida, Office Depot shareholders also signed off on the proposed merger.

After the vote, Gangwal opened the floor to questions from shareholders. There were none, so the meeting was adjourned.

OfficeMax announced plans to merge with Office Depot, the nation’s No. 2 office supplies retailer, in February. By combining, the companies hope to generate roughly $18 billion in sales, and make headway against industry leader Staples Inc.

The deal still awaits regulatory approval from the Federal Trade Commission, and is expected to close by the end of the year. Still undecided is where the combined company will be located, what it will be named and who will lead it.

Analysts have pointed to OfficeMax CEO Ravi Saligram as a lead contender to helm the merged companies. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune after the special shareholders’ meeting, Saligram said he was flattered by the confidence, and would love to accept the job if it is offered to him.

“The important thing to do is what’s right for shareholders, and to get to the right decision,” he said. “Meanwhile, I remain very focused, as my associates are, on the job at hand.”