OfficeMax CEO Ravi Saligram has bowed out of the race to be CEO of the merged Office Depot (NYSE:ODP) and Office Max, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Saligram, who was one of five finalists for the job, said in a Sept. 18 letter to OfficeMax employees that the five-member CEO selection committee "has recently begun to contemplate whether the combined company, in the context of a true merger of equals, would be better served by a new leader with no ties to either company who would bring a fresh perspective. My primary goal remains to ensure the success of the merger. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that it is in the best interests of all constituents to take myself out of the CEO search process." The letter was made public in an SEC filing.
Saligram's counterpart at Office Depot, Neil Austrian, took himself out of the running for the top job of the combined company in August.
The two office-supply retailers agreed to merge in February in a deal that valued OfficeMax at roughly $1.19 billion. But the deal did not spell out who the new CEO would be or where the combined chain would be located. OfficeMax is based in suburban Chicago, while the larger Office Depot is headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla.
The CEO selection committee reportedly whittled a list of more than 100 candidates down to what is now four, whose names haven't been made public. The company did say eight candidates were interviewed before the short list was pared down to five. A final decision on a CEO candidate is expected this month, but that may change depending on whether the Federal Trade Commission has objections to the merger.
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