Office Depot Shareholders Vote to Merge With Staples

BOCA RATON, Fla. (Sun Sentinel/TNS) -

Office Depot shareholders voted “yes” Friday for the proposed $6.3 billion merger with long-time rival Staples.

The company’s annual meeting was held in Boca Raton, where 99.5 percent of shareholders voted in favor, Office Depot said.

Shareholders Phillip and Barbara Kirschner happily voted their 1,000 shares for the merger. “I paid $4.72 a share. Now with the Staples merger, I’m going to get $7 a share plus stock in the merged company,” said Phillip Kirschner, 75.

But Rich Catanzaro, 54, who said he was laid off from Office Depot in 2009, voted against the merger. “I don’t think it’s good idea. A lot of people will be out of work,” he said.

If the merger is completed, shareholders will receive $7.25 in cash for each share of Office Depot common stock held, plus 0.2188 shares of Staples common stock.

The vote puts Boca Raton-based Office Depot, which announced the proposed merger with Staples in February, one step closer to creating one giant office-supply company in the nation.

If the merger is completed, Boca Raton could lose a Fortune 500 headquarters and hundreds of workers could lose their jobs. Office Depot employs about 2,000 at its headquarters.

The favorable shareholder vote was of little surprise, since nearly 94 percent of the stock is owned by institutional investors such as mutual funds, not individual shareholders, according to industry publication Investor Wired.

Even with shareholder approval, the transaction can’t close until it is cleared by the Federal Trade Commission and other antitrust regulators in Europe, Canada and Australia. China and New Zealand have approved the merger.

American Postal Workers Union, which has filed an objection to the merger with the FTC, held a press conference after the meeting to discuss the results that they say will create a monopoly and hurt consumers. If the FTC allows the merger, other industry mergers could follow, said union spokesman Roger Kerson.

If a merger is allowed to create a single office-supply superstore, “it would be hard for a new entry to come into the market,” he said.