As the merger of Office Depot (NYSE: ODP) and OfficeMax (NYSE: OMX) gradually progresses, the companies said on Monday (Aug. 12) that their search for a CEO of the combined company is down to five candidates.
The search committee has narrowed the field down from 100 candidates and expects to have a CEO in place by September.
"We are very pleased with the progress made on the joint CEO search process and the strong caliber of CEO candidates we have at present," said Office Depot board member Nigel Travis. "Our objective is to have a candidate in place prior to the closing of the merger to address critical issues such as headquarters location, company name, culture and strategy."
Of course, not everything is rosy. Starboard Value, a shareholder with a 14.6 percent stake in Office Depot, has been fighting a proxy battle with the support of two proxy advisory firms. The investment adviser is pursuing four seats on Office Depot's board before the merger, and has received backing from ISS and Glass Lewis for three of Starboard's four board nominees.
Travis expressed his concern that the proxy fight could stall the selection process, and urged all parties involved that "it is critical" for the CEO selection committee to "maintain its momentum."
"We are very concerned that the disruptive proxy campaign currently being led by Starboard to replace four Office Depot board members, including two that currently sit on the CEO Selection Committee, if successful, will prove counterproductive to the CEO selection process," he said.
Office Depot and OfficeMax announced their plans to merge in February, at which point the smaller OfficeMax was valued at $1.19 billion. But the ride has been more than a little bumpy; OfficeMax CFO Bruce Besanko, who was overseeing integration of the two chains, abruptly left in July to join Supervalu.
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