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Should You Follow Activist Shareholders into Office Depot?

November 29, 2012 | About:

Starboard Value, a New York-based hedge fund, now owns 14.8 percent of Office Depot (NASDAQ:ODP). The hedge fund picked up shares at around $2.30 per share. Now shares are trading at $3.25.

The Office Depot board passed a shareholder’s rights agreement known as a poison pill that prevents further stock purchases without extreme cost to Starboard.

Starboard has added Joseph Vassalluzzo and Robert Nardelli as advisers, according to an SEC document filed Tuesday.

Vassalluzzo lives in Boca Raton and runs a retail consulting business. He was a Staples employee and executive from 1989 until 2005. Nardelli is former chairman and CEO of Home Depot Inc. and Chrysler Motors LLC, which went through bankruptcy under his watch.

“As the company’s largest common shareholder, we are gravely concerned with the poor corporate governance at Office Depot,” Starboard CEO Jeffrey Smith said in a Nov. 16 letter. “Our interests are directly aligned with all shareholders."

Starboard’s strategy appears to be centered on replacing a few board members at the next meeting. Secondly, they want to convert more stores to a smaller format and curbing advertising spending and other administrative costs.

If successful, ODP could be transformed from a money-losing big-box retailer into the profit juggernaut it was a decade ago.

Rating: 4.0/5 (2 votes)


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