Office Depot and OfficeMax vote Wednesday on a merger.
The simultaneous special shareholders meetings start at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time in Boca Raton and 10 a.m. Central Standard Time in Naperville, Ill.
Affirmative votes on both sides will set off a chain of decisions: who will run the company, where to establish headquarters and what to call it.
Charles Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at University of Delaware, said holding off on those decisions minimizes dissent from one group of shareholders or the towns where the companies are located until after the vote. Companies largely are on hold until the merger is decided.
“You don’t know until the two companies combine how it’s going to look,” he said.
The two companies lag industry leader Staples, and all the office supply superstore chains struggle to compete with such online retailers as Amazon and such discounters as Walmart.
“Capturing sustained economic value in a merger is one of the most critical elements of success for a global company,” OfficeMax CEO Ravi Saligram said in a news release earlier this year.
A joint company is expected to hit sales of $18 billion annually, according to an investor presentation by Office Depot last month. That’s about what the two did last year as separate companies: Office Depot reported $10.7 billion and OfficeMax reported $6.9 billion. But the synergies of the merger are expected to mean $270 million in pre-tax earnings, an improvement over Office Depot’s loss last year.
The deal must also pass the Federal Trade Commission, which has requested additional information from both companies.