ACCC flags review of Staples/OfficeMax merger
The ACCC will conduct a review to assess the likely effects on competition if US private equity firm Platinum Equity goes ahead with a plan to buy OfficeMax Australia.
The acquisition would give Platinum two of the three major chains in Australia’s $10 billion-a-year office supplies market.
The ACCC is aware of media speculation about Platinum Equity’s possible acquisition of OfficeMax, says the ACCC in a brief statement.
If such a transaction proceeds, the ACCC expects that we would conduct a public review to assess the likely effects on competition. This would include consultation with customers and competitors.
Platinum has been granted ‘exclusivity status’ over its major rival in the auction process for OfficeMax – Office Depot’s Australian and New Zealand business – according to a report in The Australian Financial Review.
OfficeMax, the country’s No.3 player, has been up for sale through adviser Goldman Sachs with Platinum understood to have seen off private equity firm Adamantem Capital during the process.
The ACCC has now indicated it would be likely to take ‘a different view of the merger’ in light of industry developments since 2015, according to The AFR.
[The ACCC approved the proposed merger of Staples and OfficeMax in August 2015 after deciding the deal was unlikely to substantially lessen competition in the market.]
Last month, Platinum agreed to buy the Australian division of office products company Staples – the second largest business in the local office supplies market.
Staples offers a range of print and marketing services. OfficeMax’s specialist print management division, OfficeMax Print Solutions, also offers a range of services from pre-production and design, through to procurement, marketing and distribution.
California-based global investment firm Platinum, which specializes in mergers and acquisitions, has more than $US11 billion of assets under management. The company owns a 70 per cent stake in Telstra’s White Pages and Yellow Pages business Sensis.
Meanwhile, Wesfarmers, the owner of Officeworks, is still considering an IPO for the third and largest of Australia’s three major office supply chains.