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OfficeMax deal could hike prices: ACCC

Thursday, 24 August 2017
By Print 21 Online Article

The corporate watchdog has again delayed its decision over the proposed acquisition of OfficeMax by US private equity firm Platinum Equity, citing competition concerns.

Platinum recently acquired the Australian and New Zealand businesses of Staples [to be rebranded as Winc] and the proposed deal would give the California-based investment firm two of the three major chains in Australia’s $10 billion-a-year office supplies market.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has flagged initial concerns in relation to the proposed acquisition of OfficeMax Australia by Platinum Equity, said the ACCC in a statement.

The ACCC has today outlined its preliminary view that combining Staples and OfficeMax may substantially lessen competition in the supply of traditional office products such as stationery, notebooks, and copy paper to large commercial and government customers in Australia.

‘Could result in higher prices’: ACCC Commissioner Roger Featherstone

“The ACCC’s primary concern is that the loss of competition between Staples and OfficeMax could result in higher prices and lower levels of service,” said ACCC Commissioner Roger Featherston.

“We are considering the extent to which other competitors will have the ability to compete with a combined Staples/OfficeMax for large customers after the acquisition.”

The ACCC is also considering a competing bid by Complete Office Supplies to acquire OfficeMax.

“The ACCC considers each merger review on its merits and the facts presented during the review,” said Featherston.

The commission had planned to announce its ruling on the OfficeMax proposal by 20 July but has now requested further submissions.

The ACCC invites further submissions from interested parties in response to the Statement of Issues by 7 September 2017. The ACCC’s final decision is currently set to be announced on 16 November 2017.

The Statement of Issues is available on the ACCC’s Public Register: Platinum Equity – proposed acquisition of OfficeMax Australia.

In Australia, Staples and OfficeMax supply office products, primarily to business and government customers through online ordering platforms. Both businesses also offer a range of printing, print management and marketing services.

Platinum has announced it will rebrand Staples as Winc from September 4

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