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ACCC gives green light to COS OfficeMax buyout

Friday, 17 November 2017
By Jake Nelson

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has announced it will not oppose Complete Office Supplies’ takeover bid for OfficeMax, but has not yet made a decision on Platinum Equity’s bid.

Rod Sims, chairman ACCC

The ACCC previously delayed its decision on COS’ bid in September, needing more information on competition and product prices; however, the consumer watchdog announced yesterday that it would not stand in the way. “The ACCC found that a combined COS-OfficeMax would continue to face competition from Winc (formerly Staples), and to a lesser extent from Lyreco. Post-acquisition, Winc will remain the market leader by some margin,” said Rod Sims, chairman of the ACCC.

“Few customers expressed concerns about the proposed acquisition and some suggested that an enlarged COS may be able to compete better with Winc.”

The Sydney-based, family-owned office supplies company made a surprise bid for the chain in late July after April’s announcement that US-based firm Platinum Equity would take over OfficeMax Australia/New Zealand from owner Office Depot. This would have given the private equity giant control of two of the three major office supply chains in Australia following its takeover of the Australian branch of Staples (since rebranded as Winc). The ACCC has yet to rule on Platinum’s bid, as it is considering both separately: “If there are competing proposals to buy a company, the ACCC reviews the proposals independently of each other. A decision on Platinum Equity’s bid for OfficeMax is currently due in late November,” said Sims.

The New Zealand Commerce Commission (NZCC) applied this month to the NZ High Court to block the sale of OfficeMax’s New Zealand arm to Platinum Equity, citing competition concerns, and intends to consolidate its application with one launched by COS.

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