Communications for the Office Depot-OfficeMax transaction got off to a bumpy start Wednesday when the companies prematurely announced the deal in an accidental release published on Office Depot's website.
Early Wednesday morning, Office Depot published its fourth-quarter earnings release more than a week before it was expected. A few pages into the release, in a section titled “other matters,” were details of the deal with OfficeMax, which the companies had not yet officially disclosed. The earnings release disappeared from Office Depot's website about an hour later, and an official news release about the transaction followed shortly afterwards.
While agency sources say the premature earnings release has no legal implications, it could serve as a black eye during a significant moment in each company's history. Under the terms of the deal, Office Depot agreed to buy OfficeMax for $1.19 billion. The transaction, which has been years in the making, could strengthen the office supply retailers that have faced falling sales, a weak economy, and increased online competition from lower-priced rivals like Amazon.
But the accidental release might have actually helped the deal's reception among investors, one M&A expert told me. Office Depot and OfficeMax both reported fourth-quarter losses and results that fell below analyst expectations, news that could convince more investors of the deal's merits amidst a struggling industry.