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COS makes surprise bid for OfficeMax

Friday, 28 July 2017
By Print 21 Online Article

Dominique Lyone, COS founder and CEO.

Australian family-owned office supplies company Complete Office Supplies (COS) has lodged a takeover bid for OfficeMax in Australia and New Zealand – the business targeted by US private equity giant, Platinum Equity.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has begun reviewing the COS offer and has asked for submissions from interested parties by August 3.

In April, Platinum signed a deal to acquire OfficeMax Australia/NZ from parent Office Depot for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition would give the California-based investment firm two of the three major chains in Australia’s $10 billion-a-year office supplies market, after Platinum bought Staples in March.

In July, the ACCC delayed its decision on the proposed deal and requested further information from the parties.

The ACCC  has started a separate review of the COS bid and set 14 September as the provisional date for a ruling.

COS is expected to seek a court injunction to have the OfficeMax and Staples merger blocked in New Zealand on competition grounds, according to a report in The Australian Financial Review.

The COS plant at Lidcombe, NSW

In its call for submissions on the COS bid, the ACCC says:

The ACCC’s investigation is focused on the impact on competition. In particular, we are seeking your views on:

* Whether COS and OfficeMax compete closely with each other in terms of product range, pricing, types and size of customers, and geographic areas of supply.
* The extent of competition from other office products suppliers such as Lyreco, Officeworks and Staples
* Whether the price of office products will increase, or service levels decrease, as a result of the proposed acquisition
* How easy it would be for existing competitors to expand and/or new competitors to enter the market and constrain pricing and service levels provided by the merged COS/OfficeMax.

COS employs 350 staff across locations in Perth, Darwin, Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Hobart and Adelaide.

The company website says COS was founded in 1976 by 22-year-old Dominique Lyone, whose family fled to Australia after the 1967 Six-Day Arab-Israeli war. Following in the footsteps of his father, the proprietor of a typewriter repair business, Lyone started an office stationery business in Western Sydney. In the early days, COS had two staff and the top selling item was typewriter ribbon.

Platinum Equity is a global investment firm with more than $11 billion of assets under management and a portfolio of 30 companies.




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