UPDATE 8-Office Depot in $976 mln deal to buy rival OfficeMax

Wed Feb 20, 2013 4:30pm EST
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* Deal was accidentally announced earlier in the day

* CEO, headquarters still to be determined

* Office Depot shares plunge, slashing deal's value

By Phil Wahba

Feb 20 (Reuters) - Office Depot Inc will acquire smaller rival OfficeMax Inc in a $976 million all-stock deal, the companies said on Wednesday, confirming an agreement inadvertently announced earlier in the day, before it was completed.

The combined entity's name, headquarters and CEO are all undetermined, an unusual level of major decisions yet to be made that points to the integration challenge the companies face.

"I have seldom seen a situation where they can't decide on the name, the CEO or the corporate headquarters. Normally that's what you work out before you announce a deal," said Tom Stemberg, managing general partner of the Highland Consumer Fund and founder of office supply chain Staples.

Office Depot shares plunged 17 percent, dragging down the value of the deal. Even with a parallel 7 percent decline in OfficeMax's shares, that stock still closed well above the per-share value implied by the offer.

A source familiar with the situation said the terms of the deal were not yet finalized when the news first broke around 7:30 a.m. EST (1230 GMT) on Office Depot's website in an earnings release that contained certain merger details. Confirmation only came about two hours later.   Continued...