Office Depot Shareholders to Vote on Staples Merger Friday

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Sun Sentinel/TNS) -

With Office Depot’s Boca Raton, Fla., headquarters and about 2,000 jobs at stake, Office Depot shareholders are scheduled to vote Friday on the office-supply retailer’s proposed merger with Staples.

If the $6.3 billion merger is approved, it will be one more step toward creating a single, giant office-supply superstore in the nation. Office Depot previously merged with rival OfficeMax in 2013 in a $1.2 billion transaction, and the proposed merger with Staples was announced on Feb. 4.

Shareholders will gather Friday morning in Boca Raton. Few shareholders typically have shown up for Office Depot’s annual meetings in recent years, but this one includes the merger vote, which could affect the turnout.

Friday’s shareholder vote on the merger “could go very quietly,” said David Marcotte, retail analyst for consulting firm Kantar Retail.

He said that institutional investors are likely to vote for the merger to get their money out of their Office Depot and Staples’ investments. Office Depot’s stock has been stuck around $9 a share, about two dollars below the $11-per-share sales price for the company.

Staples CEO Ron Sargent has said he expects to realize savings of $1 billion by combining the office-supply retailers.

But Marcotte said that he finds it curious that neither Staples nor Office Depot has come out by this point with more details about benefits of the merger and what the company would look like going forward. Even before announcing the proposed merger, Staples had been developing new lines of business that included restaurants, education and health-care supplies.